Comelec tells Smartmatic: Secure consent before making any action
After a lapse in protocol over a minor change in script of the transparency server, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday reminded Smartmatic to secure the poll body’s consent before undertaking any action that might raise doubts on the elections’ integrity.
In a memo to Smartmatic Philippines general manager Elie Moreno and project manager Marlon Garcia, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim told the technology provider to follow protocol before examining any equipment or system.
“Kindly be reminded that as to any other equipment or system you may need to examine, please secure the consent of the undersigned (Lim) prior to doing any action,” wrote Lim, project director of the 2016 national and local elections.
“Finally, in the spirit of utmost transparency, follow the protocol of announcing any action to all parties present before undertaking any action,” he said.
The Comelec on Thursday admitted a lapse in protocol in the adjustment of the script data which resulted in a change in hash code, but Comelec Chair Andres Bautista maintained that the correction was “cosmetic” and did not change the counting and canvassing of votes, and the source code of the automated election system.
The poll body said the political parties were informed about the adjustment only after Garcia changed the special character “?” that appeared in the names of certain candidates to “ñ.” Smartmatic is the technology provider for the elections. Officials also said the Comelec en banc was not notified before the change, except for the poll body’s IT officer Rouie Peñalba, who witnessed the adjustment.
Following the incident, Lim also reiterated that Smartmatic personnel have no access to the canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) at Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City, where the Comelec sitting as the National Board of Canvassers was holding the canvassing of votes.
Lim said the NBOC has “sole and absolute” control over the CCS workstation.
“Henceforth, access to the same shall be subject to strict protocols. Your personnel shall not be allowed to access the same unless with specific prior authority from the NBOC or the project monitoring office. In any case, access to the same shall always be under direct supervision of a duly designated Comelec personnel,” he added.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Friday said the poll body would conduct an investigation on the protocol breach. RC
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