Comelec must come clean

More than ever, Commission on Elections officials need to come clean about the alleged fraudulent transmission of the May 2022 election results.

Particularly so after the poll body’s chief again admitted last week that most of the election results were electronically transmitted using just one private internet protocol or IP address.

After Chairman George Garcia’s admission before senators, opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel III blurted out, “I’m in shock to find out that our entire election system (in 2022) was one large private network.”

Similarly, Senator Imee Marcos, confronting Garcia, said, “So you are telling us that it’s true that the transmission of the results came from a single IP address? So that is true?”

Like Ms. Marcos and Mr. Pimentel, most of us, too, need to inform ourselves about the brewing electoral integrity controversy, which has been floating around the Internet for some time.

What Ms. Marcos and Pimentel were referring to had been alleged by former Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio.

Garcia’s admission, in effect, confirmed Rio’s allegation that more than 20 million votes received from various vote-counting machines or VCMs in the 2022 polls had the same private IP address,

An IP address is a string of numbers assigned solely to each device so it can connect to the Internet.

Significantly, the information about a single mysterious IP address used by VCM modems in 20,300 precincts in the (National Capital Region), and Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal provinces only came to light a year after the polls.

The mystery IP address surfaced when Rio and his group of digital forensic experts cross-checked what seemed to be “raw files” — which a Comelec insider uploaded on the Comelec website — against the “reception logs” provided by the Comelec.

Immediately after the 2022 polls, Rio strongly expressed alarm about the extraordinarily speedy transmission of electoral results and urged the Comelec to release the “reception logs.”

With the discovery of a single IP address used to transmit an over 20-million vote count, Rio and his group became ever more alarmed about the electoral exercise’s integrity.

Comelec, however, insisted no law mandates different IP addresses for transmission.

Comelec also said all the modems were brand new, purchased after thousands of modems were found defective.

The poll body said the primary telecommunications company involved in transmitting results recommended that modems be 4G-capable instead of the 3G used in previous elections. This, even if it meant using only one IP address.

Bolstering the Comelec’s contention, two private electoral watchdogs said there was nothing illegal and surprising about the use of a single personal IP address since it was common practice.

Rio and his group, however, remain undeterred in their allegation that there was a single “fabricated source” for the electoral results, and they were unconvinced by the watchdogs’ explanation.

So, the debate on IP address continues, particularly on the technical issue of a “man-in-the-middle” hack attack.

Technically, “a man-in-the-middle attack is a security breach where a hacker inserts himself between two parties and potentially alters the communication between the two.”

Still, wherever these highly technical debates lead to, Rio and the electoral watchdogs are sure of one thing — Comelec must do more.

Rio and his group are challenging Comelec to resolve all remaining doubts about the election by disclosing the actual transmission logs from the VCMs. They rightly point out that transmission logs are not the same as “reception logs,” which the Comelec made public last March.

Like Rio and his group, the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections said that what Comelec claimed to be “transmission logs” were actually “reception logs.”

Resolving the ongoing controversy, therefore, will only happen when the Comelec comes clean with accurate transmission logs.

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