Note: This article contribution was sent to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on 30 July 2023.
We thank Dr. Randy David for his article, Lingering doubts about the 2022 election, published in this paper on 30 July 2023.
Mohandas Gandhi once said: “To safeguard democracy the people must have a keen sense of independence, self-respect, and their oneness.”
Independence here means may kanya o sariling pang-unawa; self-respect means may paggalang sa sarili na bunga ang wastong kilos at pananalita; and oneness or pagkakatugma-tugma ng pang-unawa at ng naaayong pagkilos.
We admire General Eliseo Rio and others in their unrelenting effort to educate the people about doubts in the 2022 election – that it was rigged. Where Juan was supposed to transmit election results, it was Pedro who did.
Each Voting Counting Machine (VCM) is supposed to transmit election result directly to the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) Transparency Server. To enable transmission and for flexibility, each VCM is given ideally three (3) Subscriber Identity Modules, more commonly known as SIM, by Smart, Globe and Dito. This arrangement every election between the Comelec and the Telecommunications Companies (Telcos) cost millions of people’s money.
The record of transmission of VCMs is called Transmission Logs. These logs are a collection of logs of the three (3) Telcos according to the VCMs’ transmission or are also known as Call Detail Records (CDRs). Each transmission log indicates among others the date and time of transmission, and the VCM’s ID Number.
The receiving end of the transmission is the Transparency Server (TS). The record of received transmission by the TS is called Reception Logs. Each reception log indicates among others the date and time of reception, and the VCM’s ID Number.
On 27 March 2023, the Comelec published on its website the Reception Logs, in which all transmissions originated from Private IP addresses instead of the Telcos’ Public IP addresses. Hence, a case of Pedro transmitting instead of Juan. The Terms of Reference of our automated election system provides in part that “VCMs shall be able to transmit, using the designated transmission service,” the very reason for the Comelec contracting the Telcos.
In a sampling of VCM Receipts taken and compared to the Reception Logs published by the Comelec, glaring discrepancies surfaced. Minutes to hours separate the time at which these sampled VCMs transmitted and the time at which the TS received the same.
On 27 July 2023, Comelec Chair George Garcia was reportedly quoted: “Walang requirement sa batas na dapat iba-iba o pare-pareho ang IP address ng lahat ng modem. Walang epekto at walang pagkakaiba sa accuracy, legitimacy at functionality ng transmission, ang pareho man o magkakaibang address ng mga modems.” He was saying in other words that while Pedro transmitted and not Juan, there is no difference. Unravelling whether this is true or not is the very object of a demand for the disclosure of the Telco’s Call Detail Records (CDRs) that reflect Juan’s transmissions so that the same may be compared to Pedro’s.
On 03 November 2022, General Rio et al. filed with the Supreme Court a Petition for Mandamus with Prayer for Temporary Restraining Order to Compel Preservation and/or Restrain Alteration/Erasure/Deletion of Subscriber and Cyber Traffic Data Integrity of Telecom Transmissions of National Election Results from 7pm to at Least 9pm of 09 May 2022 Philippines Time (G.R. No. 263838). As to whether the Supreme Court is treating with dispatch this petition to preserve the CDRs, we do not know.
On 16 June 2023, the same petitioners in G.R. No, 263838 filed with the Comelec a Petition to Review the Qualifications of Smartmatic Philippines, Inc. as a Prospective Bidder in view of its Failure in the 2022 Elections to Comply with Certain Minimum System Capabilities that Resulted in Serious and Grave Irregularities in the Transmission and Receipt of Election Returns and, if warranted, to Disqualify Smartmatic from Participating in the Bidding for the 2025 Automated Election System (EM Case No. 23-003) in which petitioners also seek the disclosure of Transmissions Logs for the May 9, 2002 election corroborated by the TELCO’s CDRs. As to whether the Comelec is treating this petition with dispatch given the preponderance of evidence presented, we do not think so.
The Article on Suffrage in our Constitution provides in part: “The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot.” Our lawmakers should only be aware of the alleged irregularities but as to whether they are poised to investigate in aid of legislation, we do not think so.
As to whether the concerned titans of our telecommunications industry have taken notice of the alleged irregularities and, if they have, whether they are positioned to do what is patriotic, we do not know.
As to whether we, ordinary citizens and influencers alike, can have oneness of understanding and action, we can if each would just do something in his/her own little way.
The foregoing is a significant developing story for the nation. This is already about our suffrage but there is that lingering doubt in the Filipino. Who will prevail – Juan or Pedro?
Is there a way out of the darkness? Where and how do we begin?