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Former DICT official pleads to Supreme Court not to delete 2022 elections transmission logs

Elections spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco stated that the Comelec is prepared to comply with whatever directive the Supreme Court may make. He expressed his gratitude to Rio’s group for submitting the petition.

Eliseo Rio Jr., a former undersecretary of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, along with several other individuals, filed a petition with the Supreme Court yesterday, November 2, asking the court to prevent the deletion of the transmission logs of the national and local elections that took place on May 9.

In a 100-page long petition for mandamus, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections’ (NAMFREL) acting chairperson Rio, with Augusto Lagman, and the attorney Franklin Ysaac asked the High Court to issue a temporary restraining order.

It seeks to prevent any act that “may modify, erase, or delete any part or whole of the subscriber, cyber traffic data log integrity, or call record details corresponding to the elections that were transmitted from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. of May 9” by
Commission on Elections (COMELEC), the Smartmatic TIM, the telecommunications–Globe, Smart, and Dito Telecommunity.

“We hope that the Supreme Court will promulgate a politically-neutral provisional remedy, as soon as possible, before the 9th of November 2022, directing the Comelec and the telecommunication companies to preserve the subscriber and cyber traffic data integrity of the national election results transmitted from 7 p.m. to at least 9 p.m. of May 9, 2022,” they said.

In addition, they sought the Supreme Court to order the telecommunications firms to surrender “faithful copies” of their respective records and/or specifics of the data in question to the Court exclusively.

“A petition for mandamus is proper for petitioners that invoke their constitutional rights to suffrage and to information in compelling the poll body to explain fully the complete details of its preparations in view of the unraveling of alarming events of late,” they said.

“The period of six months from the May 9 elections is soon to expire within a few days from today, or on the 9th of November,” they added, referring to the period under the Election Automated Law which mandates the Comelec to submit a report on the election results.

The Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 got highlighted, which mandates the retention of data and subscriber information for a minimum of six months.

The petitioners claimed they saw inconsistencies between the transmissions to the transparency server and the main server, hence would like access to the transmission records to confirm their suspicions.

They referenced a comment made by Rio in which he cast doubt on the Comelec Transparency server’s display of 1,525,637 votes from at least 2,000 clustered precincts at 7:17 p.m. on May 9 at 7:17 PM, 17 minutes after the polls had closed.

According to Rio, it takes at least 13 seconds to print the voter-verifiable paper audit trail required by the Comelec General Instructions.

“It would take at least 30 minutes, after the last voter cast his/her vote after closing time, to officially close the voting, set up the VCM for printing, print eight copies of the ER, affixing the signatures of the teachers on each and every ER set and then give some time for the poll watchers to scrutinize the printed ER,” the former DICT undersecretary said.

“The earliest transmission then would occur after 7:30 p.m. It is therefore impossible for the transparency server to have shown the public 1.5M votes by 7:17 p.m.,” he added.

The presidential race was won decisively by Ferdinand Marcos Jr., a former senator and unsuccessful candidate for vice president in the 2016 election.

Marcos Jr. received more than 31 million votes, while his closest competitor, former vice-president Leni Robredo, received more than 15 million votes.
Robredo and the other presidential contenders acknowledged the election results and did not take legal action to protest the polls’ outcome.

Elections spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco stated that the Comelec is prepared to comply with whatever directive the Supreme Court may make. He expressed his gratitude to Rio’s group for submitting the petition.

Emil Maron, an election lawyer, stated that the same group of people who petitioned the Supreme Court in 2010 are behind the most recent petition demanding election-related telco data transmission logs. Since then, according to the attorney, they have been raising objections to the computerized elections and advocating for a switch back to the manual voting system.

Written by Charles Teves

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