Sagip Party-List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta

By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr. 

QUEZON CITY — A lawmaker on Tuesday (July 9) divulged the violations allegedly committed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) prior to the May 2025 mid-term national and local elections (NLE).

In a press conference at Seda Hotel in Vertis North, Sagip Party-List Rep. Rodante Marcoleta cited the procurement of the Miru technology from South Korea until the last meeting of the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, which was attended by representatives from the Comelec.

He also inquired from the Comelc about the technology of MuruSystems “are not within the specfications as enunciated by our Automated Election Law.”

“Ang automated election law po natin very speficic po ang sinabi doon the technology to be used must be successfully manifested in previous elections abroad,” Marcoleta said.

“Ang nangyari based on reports ang halimbawa sa Democratic Republic of Congo ang ginamit po doon ay 45 percent of the voting centers encountered problems,” he added.

“Optical Mark Reader (OMR) was used in Iraq nagkaroon rin po ng glitch. The report says about 70 percent of the voting stations also resulted confusion and difficulties that ended up in the elections,” Marcoleta said.

“Ako po ay nagpahayag sa committee on suffrage and electoral reforms at nagtanong po ako. Ang pinag-uusapan po natin dito ay P18 billion na binili natin sa South Korea,” he added.

“The ACM that will be used will be a combination of OMR and DRE. Ang tanong ko po ay napatunayan po ba na ang combination ng dalawang technology ay effective,” Marcoleta said.

“So, if there is no proof that if such a combination was not effective, the Comelec would be violating Republic Act 9369, otherwise known as the ‘Automated Election Law,” he added.

“The more important thing here is the integrity and credibility of the elections is the primordial concern,’ Marcoleta said.

He also cited Alex Magno, who has written eight articles from November 2023 to March 2024 where he sounded the alarm bells on MiruSystem, which Marcoleta termed as “the only boy crying in the wilderness.”

Marcoleta stressed that no answers were merited from the Comelec and that is something that is “bothering”.

However, the Comelec preferred to be silent as silent as a monument.

The SC recently ruled that the Comelec committed “grave abuse of discretion” amounting to excess or lack of discretion, meaning that, it’s null and void, non-existent such that it disqualified Smartmatic without “due process” in the bidding for the 2025 mid-term national and local elections.

However, the Comelec proceeded with the “operative act”.

Without a “competitive bidding”, Marcoleta said, the integrity and credibility of the 2025 mid-term national and local election will be jeopardized.

The lawmaker prefers to prioritize the “integrity of the electoral process”.

He recalled that during the 2010 elections, it only had 10 months left before the elections, but the elections proceeded just the same.

Despite all these difficulties, the 2016 elections can be considered as one of the “most credible” elections for the longest time.

“Kailangang i-improve ng Miru (technology) muna,” he said.

Some reports coming, Marcoleta said, Singapore – 6 banks, 21 accounts, China/Hong Kong – 4 banks and 7 accounts, and Carribean – 6 banks, 18 accounts, and North America – 2 banks, 3 accounts.

Total offshore bank accounts worth US$15.2 million or almost PHP1 billion.

At least US$2.1 million or more than PHP120 million are deposits made from Kprean bank accounts between June 22, 2023 – Stephen Shultz-Kyong Baek and Standard Chartered Bank (Jong ro Main Branch, Korea) involving the amount of US$148,400.

Aug. 15, 2023, de

positor Hyun Doyoon, Woori Bank with the amount of US$157,350 but the Comelec approved the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the 2025 national elections on July 21, 2023, noting that, the TOR was approved without convening the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) which is in violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

On Sept. 13, 2023, depositor Hwan Lee in Shinhan Bank in HSBC Hong Kong with US$157,488. 

According to reports, Comelec begins market survey on potential bidders for the 2025 national and local elections in September 2023. Comelec has also claimed that as much as 10 companies have showed interest.

On Oct. 18 2023, Stephen Shultz/Kyong Baek with Standard Chartered Bank with US$295,280 previously, Comelec made a pronouncement that a bidder cannot be disqualified on mere speculations.

On Dec. 7, 2023, Hyun Doon in Woori Bank in Bank of Shanghai with US185,932.

On Nov. 29, 2023, Comelec disqualified a prospective bidder from participating in any bidding process for the 2025 NLE despite previous pronouncements.

On March 22, 2024, Deborah Reed in Hana Bank with offshore account in Bank of Shanghai (China) with US$178,200 on Jan. 8, 2024, Comelec declared Miru as the sole qualified bidder. 

There are 49 offshore accounts, but Marcoleta specifically mentioned only those which are originating from South Korea.

Marcoleta himself also “sounded the alarm bells”, but nothing happened.

“We need to protect the sanctity and credibility of our electoral system,” he said.

Marcoleta stressed that the Comelec should answer the questions surrounding the Miru and come out clean.

“We need to get to anybody and everybody to get to the bottom of these,” he said.

It was noted that a prototype machine is a customized machine was presented to the Comelec that is not yet available for use.

Of the 49 offshore bank accounts, Marcoleta said, “we are continuing with the verification of such accounts.” He asked the media to help in the verification process of such 49 offshore bank accounts with the Comelec.

Marcoleta will be filing a resolution for the conduct of a House inquiry after the completion of the verification process on the 49 offshore bank accounts.

The contract with Miru was signed on Sept. 15, 2023 or eight months before the 2025 mid-term national and local elections. 

Marcoleta cited an investigative report by the US-based journal Politico that has cast a spotlight on MiruSystems, questioning the deployment of their voting technology in Iraq and Congo—nations supported by US election funding but plagued by technical glitches. 

“More than focusing on technological snafu, the article calls the attention of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to reassess the wisdom of supporting countries using Miru technology,” Marcoleta said. 

“Even more grimly, the Politico investigative report cited sanctions imposed by the US Treasury Department on the president of the Congo Election Commission for corruption — stating how he padded a contract for Miru’s machines by up to US$ 100 million which was then deposited into a company he controlled,” he added. 

Marcoleta noted this scrutiny gains local significance as Miru bagged a sole-bidder contract with Comelec to supply voting equipment for the Philippines’ 2025 election. 

Despite calls for vigilance from election watchdogs and lawmakers, he said, Comelec’s lackluster response was: “The winners in Congo and Iraq are happy and satisfied with Miru’s performance.” 

“Really? Amplifying these concerns is the dubious connection between Miru and Russian elections,” Marcoleta said. 

According to the lawmaker, Miru is openly affiliated with Bauman Moscow State Technical University, a relationship instrumental in the development of election scanners used in Russia’s contentious 2018 presidential election and subsequently in Iraq, yet another authoritarian regime. 

“Who knows—it might be the scanning technology we will use come 2025,” he said. 

Miru’s involvement in Russia reportedly began around 2009 and extended to their recent 2024 presidential elections. 

It may be recalled that during the March 19 Senate hearing, the company representative boasted on the supply of technology in that Russian elections — which was marked by Putin’s sweeping victory for a fifth term. 

“Such ties, ignored by Comelec amid the global pushback against Russian electoral practices,” Marcoleta said, “could cast a cloud of doubt over the transparency of the Philippines’ electoral venture.” 

“Filipinos’ trust in Western-led democratic principles versus their skepticism of Russian and Chinese aggression, as revealed by Pulse Asia surveys, underscores the potential geopolitical conflict in Comelec’s choice,” he said. 

“A recent survey by Pulse Asia confirmed this, with 80% of Filipinos expressing a desire for the Philippines to work with the United States to counter China’s increasing belligerence in the West Philippine Sea,” he added. 

According to Marcoleta, another survey revealed that 61% of Filipinos distrust China, while 58% distrust Russia. 

“Comelec should seriously weigh the wisdom of being associated with a company doing business in Russia even as the administration labors to bolster our ties with the US and western democracies,” he said. 

“Did Comelec even realize that the optical scanners it purchased might have originated from Russia, where elections are reportedly a farce?” Marcoleta asked. 

“Proper due diligence should have alerted Comelec to these shady connections that could result to shady elections,” he said. 

“The outcome of such due diligence, or lack of it, might not just impact on the credibility of our own elections, but also the nation’s international repute as a regional beacon of democracy caught in a tense geopolitical landscape,” he added. 

“That said, something smells fishy with Comelec’s choice. And the smell reportedly reeks from the Philippines all the way to the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean, North America, China, and Singapore,” Marcoleta stressed.