The legal team of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. today asked the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to furnish them with the results of the decryption of the supposedly “unused” SD cards found to have data during the stripping process.
In a six-page Manifestation, George Erwin Garcia, counsel of Marcos, said the fact that many of the supposedly “unused” SD cards were found to have data during the stripping activities for 1,356 units of contingency Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) bolstered their position that mere physical examination is not enough to prove that they were not used in the last elections.
“With all due respect, the presence of data stored in the SD cards, which were retrieved from the 1,356 units of contingency VCMs, bolsters the position of protestant Marcos that the mere physical examination of the subject VCMs, boxes, seals, stickers and SD cards is indeed inadequate to prove that the same were not used in the 9 May 2016 Elections,” Garcia said.
COMELEC had conducted the stripping activities after it unilaterally decided to release 1,356 VCMs to Smartmatic claiming they were not covered by the PPO since they were not used and/or not deployed in the May elections. However, it was later discovered that many of SD cards in the supposedly “unused” VCMs were found to contain data during the stripping activities conducted by the poll body and Smartmatic.
Because of this, Garcia asked for a copy of the results of decryption of the SD cards found to contain data.
“It is respectfully prayed of this Honorable Tribunal to direct the COMELEC to furnish the protestant and the other interested parties in this case with …… the results of the decryption of the SD cards from (1,356) units of contingency VCMS, which were found to contain data during the said closure/stripping activities, xxxx,” Garcia stated.
Garcia informed the Tribunal that they did not take part in the stripping activities conducted on 26 October 2016 and 02 November 2016 because it is their position that the COMELEC should have first secured authority from the PET before carrying out the stripping activities. He said the existence of a Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) which enjoins COMELEC to preserve all election materials used in the last elections precluded the poll body from conducting the said activity without court approval.
“The objection of protestant Marcos was based on his position that the one thousand three hundred fifty-six (1,356) units of contingency VCMs were covered by the PPO dated 12 July 2016, and that this Honorable Tribunal has not issued any explicit approval to the closure/stripping activities. Moreover, the conduct of mere physical examination of the subject VCMs, boxes, seals, stickers and SD cards is inadequate to prove that the same were not used in the 09 May 2016 Elections,” Garcia said.
With the subsequent approval of the PET to conduct the stripping activities, Garcia said they still reserve their right to question the propriety and legitimacy of the said undertaking.
With their non-participation in the stripping activities so as not to render their objection moot, Garcia said they do not have copies of the Minutes of the Proceedings and other documents in relation to the activities which would guide them in their next course of action.
“On this score, and in order to guide protestant Marcos on the appropriate course of action to remedy his precarious situation, he would like to request this Honorable Tribunal to direct the COMELEC to furnish him and the other interested parties in this case with copies of the Minutes of the Proceedings and/or Transcript of Stenographic Notes taken during the closure/stripping activities conducted on 26 October 2016 and 02 November 2016,” he said.