GMA News Online – Bongbong Marcos to ask SC to stop Comelec from releasing ‘unused’ VCMs to Smartmatic

20 October 2016

By Virgil Lopez | GMA News Onlinegma-news-online

Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. is set to ask the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to stop the Commission on Elections from releasing supposedly unused vote counting machines to Smartmatic pending resolution of his poll protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

Marcos' counsel, Jose Amor Amorado, said Thursday they will file the necessary motion with the PET by the end of the week or early next week.

"Senator Marcos is vehemently opposing the plan of Comelec to return the 1,356 VCMs to Smartmatic for the simple reason that there is no approval from the PET in the light of the PPO (Precautionary Protective Order) it earlier issued," Amorado said.

Issued on August 2, the PPO enjoined the Comelec to preserve and safeguard the integrity of all ballot boxes, their contents, VCMs and all other election-related paraphernalia – including the automated election equipment and records – in all 92,509 clustered precincts used in the May 9 elections.

Amorado said the VCMs scheduled to be released starting October 26 are covered by the PPO because they were the contingency machines that were deployed during the elections.

"These contingency machines were used during the last elections as contingency VCMs. Some of them were deployed admittedly during the earlier meetings in different areas. Some of them were left here in (Comelec warehouse) Sta. Rosa (Laguna). So because of lack of PET approval, the plan of Comelec to return the VCMs to Smartmatic is vehemently opposed," Amorado said.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim informed PET chairman and Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in a letter dated September 29 that the Comelec will return the machines to Smartmatic and parties to vice presidential and senatorial election protests were invited to a briefing on the protocol on the release of VCMs.

For the Comelec, the VCMs are deemed not covered by the PPO issued by the PET because the machines "were not actually deployed and/or used during the elections."

But Amorado, who attended the briefing on Wednesday, said the determination of whether the machines were actually used or not lies with the PET and not with the Comelec.

He also said the poll body should have sought the consent of the tribunal before deciding to release the machines.

"In so far as our technical people are concerned there is no way that Comelec will be able to prove that these machines were not actually used. Plus from the legal standpoint, these machines were used actually as contingency machines so whether or not they were opened is beside the point," Amorado added.

Marcos has accused Robredo, who defeated him by just 263,473 votes, of benefitting from "massive electoral fraud, anomalies and irregularities."

The former senator cited alleged preshading of ballots, script change in the transparency server that supposedly altered the results, pre-loaded secure digital cards, misreading of ballots, malfunctioning VCMs, and an "abnormally high" unaccounted votes/undervotes for the position of vice president.

Robredo shrugged off Marcos' claims by asking the PET to dismiss the protest.