Volunteers code the electoral declarations for auditing and manual validation at the Command Center of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting established at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila.  HISTORY: PPCRV denies being Comelec's 'rubber stamp'

VOLUNTEER WORK | Volunteers code the electoral declarations for auditing and manual validation at the Command Center of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting established at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila. (Photo by RICHARD A. REYES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — The director of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) took to social media to defend the role of the electoral watchdog after questions began to circulate online about her mandate and Your background.

In a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday, PPCRV President Myla Villanueva said that the random manual audit of actual ballots was not part of her mandate, but that of the National Citizen Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lens).

His post was in response to a letter circulating online from a certain Freddy Olbes, who identified himself as a volunteer PPCRV coder. In a letter dated May 12, Olbes said he was “shocked and disappointed” to discover that he and the other volunteers were coding the electoral district totals that had been added from the election results, rather than individual ballot receipts from different randomly selected electoral districts.

“The exercise that we, the volunteers, were carrying out was similar to examining the veracity of an original document by reading its carbon copy,” he said, adding: “In short, we were acting as Comelec’s glue (and therefore government inference) stamp.”

Olbes went on to say that the PPCRV had “failed to live up to [its] mandate and had done the voters and the country a disservice” by not requiring a recount of individual votes.

Fraud check

Villanueva, in his Facebook post, clarified that the PPCRV’s job was to check for broadcast fraud when election results enter cyberspace and to protect votes against “dagdag-bawas,” or vote shaving.

At another briefing in March, he had explained the PCCRV’s mandate this way: “What we do [at] the command center is the one that we match through the encoding of the results in the electoral declaration [with] what the VCMs (vote counting machines) transmitted electronically. Since our election results are collected before broadcast, what we are trying to ensure is that no dagdag-bawas (vote clipping) will occur.”

In a press conference on Monday, PPCRV spokesman and legal advisor Vann dela Cruz cited Republic Law No. 9369, which states that the arm of an accredited citizen would receive only the fourth copy of the election results.

“That’s all we have. we can’t get [copies] of the ballots because that is an electoral crime,” he added.

The fourth copy of the election results is printed before the VCMs transmit the data into cyberspace. Taken from all polling stations across the country, these are sent to the PPCRV command center on the campus of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) in Manila for volunteers to code.

Questions

The data would then be compared to post-broadcast election results posted on transparency servers.

This is not the first time PPCRV has been plagued by misinformation being spread online.

At one point, netizens questioned the alleged discrepancies in the parallel count due to the “fixed gap” between the favored presidential candidate, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and his main rival, Vice President Leni Robredo.

But Villanueva told a briefing that the PPCRV did not find any anomaly, adding that it had turned to academic experts from different universities to further examine the watchdog’s tabulations.

Last week, the group also had to debunk a viral social media post about an alleged bomb threat and tear gas attack on their UST command center.

Other netizens, meanwhile, aired their doubts about the credibility of the PPCRV after pointing out that Villanueva was the daughter of Mark Jiménez, a businessman and ally of former President Joseph Estrada.

Villanueva addressed this in his Facebook post by noting that he had been running various tech companies for decades.

“I have managed some of the most complex systems you can imagine for more than 34 years,” he said.

“I have been blessed with my good reputation and success in the industry both here and abroad, and I wanted to give back,” she added.

revalidation

As of 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, the PPCRV had received 62,752 ERs out of a total of 107,785. Of this number, 46,447 ERs had been scrambled and matched, while 355 ERs would need to undergo revalidation.

“As we code more (election) statements, we expect more errors in the coding,” PPCRV Trustee William Yu said at Monday’s briefing.

He explained that the mismatches were not unusual and that many of the errors were due to clerical errors made by the coders.

Namfrel also volunteered to double check the ERs he received to help revalidate the 355 ERs, Yu said.

The PPCRV is a national, non-partisan, political, secular, parish-based movement founded in 1991 by the late Cardinal Jaime Sin, former Ambassador to the Holy See Henrietta de Villa, and the late former Commissioner of Elections Haydee Yorac. He has been an accredited election observer since the 1992 election.

—WITH AN INQUIRER INVESTIGATION REPORT

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