By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Challenged by statements questioning the veracity of his exposè on the alleged poll fraud, Senator Vicente Sotto III, on Wednesday, bared more of his proof that “irregularities” had transpired during the 2016 national elections.
In a privilege speech Wednesday, the Senate Majority Floor Leader slammed anew Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez for defending the alleged early transmission of votes prior to the May 9, 2016 elections as being part Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) of the vote counting machines.
“Comelec’s admission that there were test data coming from an authorized on May 8-9, 2016 is admitting that Comelec itself is violating its own rules,” Sotto said.
Sotto said this as he cited the Comelec en Banc Resolution 10057 issued February 11, 2016, which states that period for testing and sealing shall be from May 2 to May 6, 2016.
Baring new information from his source, Sotto said the Comelec, assuming that FTS were conducted a day before the elections, had “allowed” a transmission of a VCM with an IP address 3629.pili2016pinas.net as early as at 1:12 a.m. on May 9. The address pointed to a consolidated canvassing system (CCS) assigned to Tugaya, Lanao del Sur.
“If we are to accept Mr. Jimenez’s alternative explanation that these could be legitimate testing transmissions, is he again saying that Comelec knows and authorized approximately 459 early transmissions on May 8 alone?” Sotto added.
Sotto also hit Comelec for repeatedly requesting documents of his allegations when “these documents are legally in their possession.”
“Baka nagtataka sila kung paano ako nakakuha ng kopya (Maybe they are wondering where I got copies of the transmissions),” he said.
The senator said the issue on early transmissions will be answered if the pol body “will just promptly present the logs” to the Senate, which he said, has long been asking for copies.
“The office of Senator Chiz Escudero already requested these logs last month; however, Comelec has not responded to date! All he has to do is look for the letter request from the Senate, comply and attend our hearings. There, we will learn the truth,” Sotto said.
Sotto also addressed Jimenez’ interview statements on the supposed foreign access to the election servers.
He negated Jimenez in saying that it is a non-issue since the election results website is being hosted by United States-based Amazon Web Services (AWS) since 2010.
“In actuality, the Comelec website servers are here in our country, somewhere in BGC, Taguig, with backup data centers contracted from Globe.”
“If indeed, the Comelec results website was hosted in AWS, then by his own admission, Comelec sees nothing wrong with a machine hosted in a foreign country accessing our election servers remotely? We might as well give them access to our election data on a silver platter,” Sotto said.
Sotto also asked if such set-up had been authorized the agency. “Because I am not aware of any Comelec en banc resolution allowing such, so probably they can furnish us with a copy if there is indeed a resolution.”
‘4 queuing servers’
Sotto, in what has now appeared to be a series of exposes, presented a “third issue” in addition to the two allegations he made public last week.
The senator said there are four queuing servers in the automated elections system which, he said, “was the one that really tainted the outcome of the elections.”
To recall, Sotto said there were two servers during the elections: “CNTADNS” that is used by all VCMs and CCS from May 9 to 10; and “CNTBDNS” used only by four IP addresses from May 10 to 11.
Sotto, in his Powerpoint presentation, said the VCMs, as a usual procedure, sent the data to only one server, the CNTADNS server, whose recipients are the Municipal/City Board of Canvassers, Provincial/Regional Board of Canvassers, Transparency Servers and the Central Servers.
“Suddenly, on May 10-11, the rules changed in the middle of the game. For some unknown reason, the transmissions from the VCM’s did not go straight to the CCS but instead, went through either one of the four ‘Queuing Servers’ before reaching the CCS.”
“By then, two servers are now involved in the process. This additional Server CNTBDNSO1 is now communicating with the queries of the VCMs after it has gone to queuing,” Sotto said.
Queuing server, Sotto defined, is a device to organize and line up all the incoming data “to make sure that what goes in will be sent out so no data is left behind.”
“The question now is, how relevant and crucial is this queuing server? Is it that vital, that the engineers were willing to risk a possible data loss or crashing of an ongoing system, by installing a new device in the middle of the transmission process? As we can see, despite having these queuing servers, the results were still not equal among all servers,” Sotto raised.
To support his claim, Sotto also cited a NAMFREL Report for the 2016 National and Local Elections which found that the integrity of Automated Election System’s (AES) “was undermined” due to the intrusion of a Transparency Server while the system was actively receiving electronic transmissions.
The report also mentioned the presence of a “fourth server” located at a previously undisclosed location.
He added that the use of the queue server was only discovered in 2016 from the admission of Smartmatic’s project director Marlon Garcia during the preliminary investigation conducted by the Manila Prosecutor’s Office for a case filed by former Representative Jonathan de la Cruz.
“Smartmatic may say that they deemed it prudent to install these queuing servers to ensure the accuracy of the transmissions. But why install such on May 10-11 only? The transmissions made after the elections on May 9-10 went well, I suppose, without this queuing servers. Also, the bulk of the transmissions happened on May 9-10. If indeed these queuing servers are of any help then these should have been there from the beginning,” Sotto said.
“I am really perplexed by these four queuing servers and Server CNTBDNSO1. Is this some kind of a back up system to troubleshoot a problem due to the surge of data all at the same time? I don’t think so because from the time they design the process, the engineers more or less know the bandwidths and data capacity of the servers, alam na nila ito from the start!
“Also, it is very complex to set up another server, so this cannot be a last minute decision. This second server has been set up and ready to be plugged at the last stretch of the transmission phase. Can the Comelec provide us with a resolution showing that this second server was also tested? Because as far as I know, there is no second server in the Comelec issued process.”
Citing again his source, Sotto said he was told “that the reason for the temporary halt in the transmission of votes that we witnessed in the wee hours of May 10-11, were caused by the restarting of the malfunctioning queue servers.
Sotto also questioned the Comelec’s establishment of seven regional hubs one week before the May 2016 elections.
“These hubs did not go through any prior inspections from the representatives of political parties or other stakeholders. Also, during the elections, the activities done in these hubs were not witnessed by poll watchers and other representations to ensure the credibility and transparency of these regional hubs. So can the Comelec also explain this swift decision a week before the elections?” he said.
Sotto likewise raised as “fourth issue” that 3.86 percent of the election returns representing at least 1.7 Million votes were not transmitted electronically “for some reason or another.”
While noting the Comelec’s assurance that the such un-transmitted votes were included in the final count by manually tallying of the contents of the SD cards, Sotto quoted the NAMFREL’s report that further clarification is needed regarding the poll body’s guidelines on the chain of custody of these SD cards.
“Also, were the political parties, accredited citizen’s arm allowed or were asked to observe the manual tallying of these 3.86 percent un-transmitted votes? These 1.7 million votes are very crucial to ongoing electoral protests,” Sotto said.
Sotto lamented that “there is still no clear justification” from the Comelec on the first two issues he had raised. He said he has already provided them a copy of his documents.
“In the observance of fairness and due process, the COMELEC and Smartmatic can fully and appropriately present their side in a full-blown Senate hearing. It is the proper venue to answer these allegations and to educate us on what really transpired in the 2016 National Elections,” the senator appealed.
Meanwhile, Sotto told his critics not to meddle in his allegations, especially those “involved in the entry of Smartmatic.”
“Wag na kayo makialam at isubmit nyo nalang sa amin ang mga laman ng logs na inexpose ko, at magkakaintindihan tayo,” he ended.