MANILA — 1Sambayan and Cornerstone Technologies represented by lawyer Ria Villanueva-Dam have launched Hope Watch 2022 app to safeguard Filipino votes in the May 9 elections.

In an interview with ANC’s Heads tart, Villanueva-Dam said the app will provide voters secure communications should they want to report election irregularities on Election Day through the chat and call feature.

“They can have a secure platform to report election irregularity like vote-buying,” Villanueva-Dam said.

Initially designed for poll watchers, Villanueva-Dam said they decided to include voters so they can also seek medical help through the app.

“They will release a tabulation of votes at their headquarters in Makati through photographed election returns submitted to the app,” she said.

“That’s what we are counting on, crowdsourcing,” she added, noting anyone including poll watchers will be able to take a photo of returns.

The app, though not endorsed by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), can be downloaded for free via Google Play Apps or Apple App Store.

Launched late last month, HOPE which stands for Honest Open Philippine Elections, opposition coalition 1Sambayan said the app will allow the country’s 65 million voters to become poll watchers on May 9.

“The purpose of the HOPE app is to empower every Filipino voter to protect not only his or her vote but also the vote of all voters in his or her precinct,” 1Sambayan lead convenor and retired Supreme Court associate justice Antonio Carpio said.

Carpio said the app can also do a quick tally of votes while individuals can take a photo of the system hash code for election returns to be accurately counted.

“If the code doesn’t appear, it’s possible that the operating system code of the vote-counting machine has been compromised,” Carpio said

1Sambayan through convenor Howard Calleja said they enlisted the assistance of lawyers, IT professionals, BPO experts, security professionals, accountants, statisticians, and other professional volunteers to tackle concerns made from the app.

In 2021, the coalition also launched 1Sama campaign app but was later discontinued following security breach concerns.

Villanueva-Dam said the app has been vetted by cybersecurity professionals, sustained vulnerability assessment and penetration testing, and is only available for domestic download to reduce the risk of hacking.

For those with no internet access, they can still use the app’s toll-free call feature enabled by the poll watchers to be deployed in over 100,000 precincts in the Philippines and a headquarters with volunteers that will attend to calls and other poll-related concerns.

Auditing the country’s automated election system

In the same report, 1Sambayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares said, “the noble vision of an automated election has floundered in the sea of un-transparency.”

“This is a quick count app, quicker than any quick count in Philippine elections history,” Colmenares said.

Carpio, meanwhile, noted that the app’s audit or “hack” ability is the first of its kind for the automated election system “marred by a lack of transparency.”

NAMFREL’s app allows voters to report irregularities

In another report by ABS-CBN News, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) launched on April 29 its Bantay ng Bayan 2022 app in a bid to help Filipinos to have more confidence in the automated election system by allowing them to report inaccuracies and irregularities in the transmission of electoral data.

NAMFREL national council member Fernando Contreras Jr. said the public can use the app as a bandwidth tester after the COMELEC changed the manner of transmitting electoral data from 3G to 4G.

“What we want to do is help COMELEC assess the readiness in shifting from 3G to 4G,” Contreras said, noting election returns contain “important information to verify and monitor the integrity of our votes.”

The group said the public can take pictures of the upper and bottom parts of the election returns for the hash codes through the app so they can compare them with those found on COMELEC’s website.