By Alex P. Vidal
“We have to distrust each other. It is our only defense against betrayal.”—Tennessee Williams
THERE is more than meets the eye in the recent yakety-yak of Senator Imee Marcos regarding the alleged breach of security in the Smartmatic, the provider of the automated elections system (AES) and vote-counting machines (VCMs) for the May 9, 2022 election.
Pointing only to Facebook posts but without any concrete evidence other than the social media, the sister of presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., made a very serious allegation that a Smartmatic contractual worker took out an official laptop and leaked its contents.
Did she foresee her brother’s defeat and she is now laying the groundwork to be used as the basis when the Marcos camp files an electoral protest after May 9?
Since nobody has raised the furor until Senator Marcos revealed it in public and in the executive session, she said, after seeing those Facebook posts, some people might speculate that the Marcos camp is now jittery and panicky about the chances of Marcos Jr.
After May 9, in case her brother will lose, will Sen. Marcos tell us: “I told you so. There’s a breach of security in the Smartmatic. Remember when I warned you all about this before the election?”
She insisted the matter was discussed during an executive session among senators, poll executives, and law enforcement operatives.
“Nasa Facebook eh, makikita ninyo sa isang XSOS na nasa Facebook, nandun nakalatag kung ano-anong impormasyon,” said the Ilocos lawmaker, who is head of the Senate Committee in Electoral Reforms. “May mga password, user word. Sabi nila, bulok na at non-usable but nevertheless, the wealth of detail and the depth of knowledge is a little bit alarming.” (It’s on Facebook, you will see a wide array of information on the XSOS Facebook. There are passwords and user words. They said the data is old and unusable but nevertheless, the wealth of detail and the depth of knowledge is a little bit alarming.)
She claimed this could affect election results.
What if Bongbong Marcos Jr. will win and his defeated rivals will invoke Senator Marcos’ casus belli?
Sen. Marcos’ fears are actually valid. Anyone who has seen the alleged Facebook posts from a purported hackers’ group called XSOX, might think and feel the same way.
It so happened her brother is running for president, thus others might accuse her of making a mountain out of a molehill.
But according to a report from CNN Philippines, Smartmatic has clarified that no such breach happened.
“Hindi po ‘yun totoo (That is not true),” CNN Philippines quoted Smartmatic spokesman Christopher Louie Ocampo as having told reporters. “Ang Smartmatic po, to be very clear, ay hindi po involved sa (is not involved in) processing or storing of personal data of any voter for the 2022 elections. Anyone can make this document and post it on Facebook and say this can possibly affect the 2022 elections.”
CNN Philippines also quoted Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez as having also expressed confidence that the 2022 election systems have not been compromised.
“From the very beginning, sinasabi natin (we are saying) that Comelec is fully in charge of the elections,” Jimenez said, according to CNN Phlippines. “We are confident that even in this particular case, walang naganap na hacking (no incident of hacking occurred) and therefore there will be no impact of that alleged hacking to the election results for 2022.”
The National Bureau of Investigation is said to be also looking into the incident.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo.—Ed)