Electoral fraud, also called vote rigging, voter fraud or election manipulation, involves illegal interference in the process of an election, either by increasing the vote share of a favored candidate, depressing the vote share of rival candidates, or both.
Through the TNTrio’s scrutiny of hard data coming from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) itself and their relentless drive to educate the public, doubts involving the integrity of the automated election system used in the 2022 elections now abound. (See “May 2022 vote rigged from the start, retired general, others say,” CoverStory.ph, Aug. 31, 2023.)
At 7:17 p.m. of May 9, 2022, or 17 minutes after voting closed, the Comelec transparency server showed the public its first counting result of 1,525,637 votes. This number of votes would come from at least 2,000 clustered precincts’ vote-counting machines (VCMs).
The Comelec General Instructions require that nine major tasks, which can take at least 30 minutes, must first be performed by the members of the Electoral Board (EB) before a VCM can transmit its election return (ER) to the Transparency Server. This means that the earliest transmittal could only happen at 7:30 p.m., not 7:17 p.gm.
At 8:02 p.m., or 45 minutes after 7:17 p.m., votes peaking at 20,061,691 were broadcast to the public—a first in Philippine election history, and perhaps the world, where the number of votes counted peaked at the very first hour in a four-day counting period.
On Oct. 18, 2022, the Comelec showed a graph of “Accumulated VCM Transmissions” that depicted VCM transmissions. Suspiciously, the graph showed peak transmission happening at 9:30 p.m., not 8:02 p.m.
Thus, the transparency server was receiving and counting more votes than what the VCMs were transmitting.
Unless the Comelec shows the transmission logs, corroborated by the telcos’ call detail records (CDRs), the truth about the 2022 elections can never be known.
Hence, on Nov. 3, 2022, the TNTrio filed with the Supreme Court a petition for mandamus with a prayer for a 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 7 p.m. to at least 9 p.m. of May 9, 2022 Philippines time” (G.R. No. 263838).
As to whether the Supreme Court is treating with dispatch this petition to preserve the CDRs, all that can be said is it remains pending.
On March 27, 2023, the Comelec published on its website the reception logs, showing that all transmissions had originated from private internet protocol (IP) addresses instead of the telcos’ public IP addresses.
Glaring discrepancies were discovered when 32 VCM receipts were matched with the published reception logs. Minutes to hours separate the time when the sampled VCMs were transmitted and the time when the transparency server received the same.
Meanwhile, the bidding process for the 2025 automated election system is well underway.
Hence, on June 16, 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). This petition, which could go all the way to the Supreme Court, also sought the disclosure of transmission logs corroborated by the telcos’ CDRs.
On July 27, 2023, Comelec Chair George Garcia was quoted as saying that there was no legal requirement for the same or varying IP addresses, and that differences in addresses did not matter: “Walang requirement sa batas na dapat iba-iba o pare-pareho ang IP address ng lahat nang modems. Walang epekto at walang pagkakaiba sa accuracy, legitimacy at functionality ng transmission, ang pareho man o magkakaibang address ng mga modems.”
In a published letter dated Aug. 29, 2023, from its board of trustees, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting told its coordinators and volunteers: “Yes, you can use one public or private IP address for your network, and also one IP address across multiple devices in various networks, and this is made possible by the use of a technique called Network Address Translation or NAT.” It also said the “confusion and anxiety were brought on by unsubstantiated accusations and unproven allegations” regarding the integrity of the 2022 canvass.
These contradicting positions over the use of private and public IP addresses can only be resolved by the disclosure of the transmission logs.
As to whether the Comelec is conscientiously addressing the TNTrio’s petition given the preponderance of evidence, all that can be said is the petition remains pending.
On Aug. 31, 2023, the House of Representatives was urged to investigate, in aid of legislation, the use of a single private network in the 2022 elections and its implications on the automated electoral system. House Resolution No. 1239 was filed to that effect.
The filing of the resolution indicates certain lawmakers’ growing awareness of potential irregularities in the 2022 elections—an awareness now complemented by the increasing consciousness of possible poll irregularities among individuals, sociocivic organizations, and political parties.
The Article on Suffrage in the Philippine Constitution provides in part: “The Congress shall provide a system for securing the secrecy and sanctity of the ballot.”
As to whether Congress will exercise its power to investigate in aid of legislation, the defeatist response is that the resolution will be ignored: “Hindi papansinin ‘yan. Hindi lulusot ‘yan.”
A protest action against cheating, dubbed “Kilos Protesta Kontra Pandaraya,” is scheduled in front of the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, on Sept. 21—the 51st anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s declaration of martial law.
The demonstration that will start at 9 a.m. is envisioned to compel election officials to come clean on the alleged rigging of the 2022 national elections and to protest the poll body’s inaction.
The TNTrio, with support from retired military and police officers, is spearheading the event.
The foregoing speaks of an intrinsic desire to protect Filipinos’ constitutional right to suffrage, and to ensure that the people who cast their votes are the ones who decide an election, not the people who count them. It speaks of wanting to make Philippine institutions work—the courts, Comelec, Congress. It speaks of the belief that Philippine democracy is strong, and that justice will prevail.
These are goals that the TNTrio and the various sectors now backing them want to reach.
But they can never plan on what’s going to happen next.
Kapatiran Party or the Alliance for the Common Good is a national political party registered with and accredited on May 8, 2010, by the Commission on Elections. It stands on a platform with clear and specific policy objectives aimed at enhancing the common good and promoting the politics of virtue and the politics of duty.