By Xave Gregorio
Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III backed claims raised during a joint congressional inquiry that the voter database was sold in previous polls.
Sotto sided with abogado Glenn Chong, who alleged during the hearing Monday (August 6) that a former election officer from Maragondon, Cavite sold election data.
Chong presented photos which supposedly show voter data being “sold” and added that the data breach from the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) website in 2016 may have only been a cover up.
“Ang raket po dito nagbabayad po ‘yung kliyente ng bawat ulo. Ilang ulo ang tatanggalin diyan ililipat sa kabilang presinto para mawindang sa nakaraang halalan,” Chong said.
The Senate President supported this, saying he got wind of similar incidents in Nueva Ecija and Iloilo.
“Pwedeng ‘yung mga botante ililipat ng presinto. Ang mga alam nilang kalaban ng kandidato ililipat ng presinto, pagdating ng election day ‘di makita ang presinto niya. Possible na gawin ‘yan, daan-daan kung gawin ‘yan,” Sotto told reporters in a chance interview after the hearing.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez admitted that some election officers (EO) do “take advantage,” but they have already been axed.
“Matagal na naming alam at palagi nating nililinis ang ating sistema laban sa mga ganyang klaseng activites,” Jimenez said in an interview.
He also said Chong’s photos may only be showing the interface of the voter verification system, a software used by election officers to confirm whether a voter has been registered.
“I think there may have been a misappreciation of what he had. He thought it was something else but it wasn’t,” Jimenez said.
He added that the voter verification system has not been in use since the previous elections.
Despite refuting Chong’s claims, Jimenez said the Comelec would still be investigating his allegations.
Meanwhile, Sotto and Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III still found the Comelec’s explanations of the alleged irregularities in the 2016 elections wanting, even accusing the poll body of lawyering for election provider Smartmatic.
However, Sotto said the current automated elections system cannot be completely dismissed for not being credible.
“Hindi naman natin pwedeng sabihing generally ‘di credible, there are just incredible things that have happened,” he said.
Pimentel, who chairs the Senate panel of the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections, has asked Sotto to issue a subpoena for the election audit logs, which the Comelec still failed to produce.
“May issue tayo kasi I’m not so sure if this is covered by the protective order, because if it is, then yes, definitely, maghihintay tayo ng sagot, ng authorization from the PET (Presidential Electoral Tribunal,)” Jimenez said.
The PET is currently hearing the electoral protest lodged by former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo