The Commission on Elections in 2010 and 2013 trusted Smartmatic, a purportedly Venezuelan firm, that its counting of votes in those election years would be completely aboveboard. The Comelec will again give its full trust to Smartmatic in the national election next year as the Filipino people decide who will run this country in the next six years. For such a crucial role in our democratic process, the Comelec knows exactly what it is dealing with, and who the owners of Smartmatic are. Right? Amazingly, no. Neither the Comelec nor Smartmatic has disclosed the full details of the firm’s ownership. What’s worrying is that a detailed investigation by the US Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela (which, one would presume, had inputs from its intelligence services), where the firm is purportedly based, concluded:
“Smartmatic is a riddle. The company came out of nowhere to snatch a multi-million dollar contract in an electoral process that ultimately reaffirmed Chavez’s mandate and all but destroyed his political opposition. The perspective we have here, after several discussions with Smartmatic, is that the company is de facto Venezuelan and operated by Venezuelans. The identity of Smartmatic’s true owners remains a mystery. Our best guess is that there are probably several well-known Venezuelan businessmen backing the company and who prefer anonymity either because of their political affiliation, or perhaps, because they manage the interests of senior Venezuelan government officials.”
Reading that, what struck me was the thought: Could such businessmen in the shadows be persuaded to order its Philippine operations to support a particular candidate?
… Smartmatic was founded in the late ‘90s by three Venezuelans: Antonio Mugica, Alberto Anzola and Roger Pinate. According to Mugica’s conversations with poloffs [political officers] in recent years, the three had developed a network capable of handling thousands of simultaneous inputs. An early application was ATMs in Mexico, but the US presidential election in 2000 led the group to consider electronic voting platforms. The company formed the SBC consortium with Venezuelan telecom provider CANTV (at the time 28-percent owned by Verizon) and a software company called Bizta.