By Camille A. Aguinaldo
SENATE Majority Leader Vicente C. Sotto III in a privileged speech on Tuesday cited possible irregularities in the May 2016 national elections which he said “altered” poll results.
Mr. Sotto said he was informed by a “concerned and impeccably reliable source” about a series of early transmissions of votes on May 8, 2016, a day before election day.
The source also told the senator that the country’s election servers were allegedly accessed remotely by an “Amazon cloud services in the United States.”
“If these allegations are serious enough and are proven to be true after due investigation, then we have a case of electoral sabotage for the conduct of the 2016 elections,” Mr. Sotto said in his speech.
“If we don’t do anything to clear the doubts as to the legitimacy of the previous election, then we put at risk the accuracy of the 2019 elections,” he added.
Mr. Sotto said the alleged early transmission of votes came from certain vote-counting machines (VCMs) in different areas in the country. He said these incidents could not be dismissed as “testing transmissions” since he noted the last official testing was on April 23, 2016.
The senator’s source also showed many candidates in previous national elections having zero votes from numerous precincts based on alleged transmissions that his source provided.
According to his source, Senator Panfilo M. Lacson had zero votes from 819 precincts; senatorial candidate and presidential adviser on political affairs Francis N. Tolentino, zero votes from 816 precincts; and Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, zero votes from 693 precincts.
As for alleged foreign access in elections servers, the senator said a certain username “e360sync,” which was a “cloud computing service” based in the United States, gathered information from the server before, during and after election day.
He said the username was similar to the software product of poll technology provider Smartmatic.
Messrs. Sotto and Zubiri, together with Senate President Aquilino Martin L. Pimentel III, expressed doubts over Smartmatic’s VCMs, which was recently chosen by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to handle the 2019 midterm elections.
“In my opinion, this decision is a bit problematic, given the numerous unresolved issues that Smartmatic is being accused of in the conduct of the last 2016 national elections,” the Senate Majority Leader said of the Comelec’s approved option to purchase Smartmatic’s VCMs for the 2019 midterm elections. He urged a stop to the contract with Smartmatic.
Mr. Sotto also sought an investigation by the proper Senate committee. “These issues cannot be ignored as it weakens the propriety of our automated election system. We must ascertain the accuracy of these allegations as to either make the responsible officials accountable or finally put to rest the questions clouding the results of the 2016 election,” he said.
Mr. Sotto’s speech was referred to the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, chaired by Senator Richard J. Gordon.