– Bongbong questions Comelec action on VCMs

11 August 2016

InquirerBy Julie M. Aurelio |

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday questioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for issuing a resolution approving the stripping of the vote counting machines (VCMs) and laptops used in the May 9 polls, despite a precautionary protection order (PPO) from the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

The stripping activity involves the backup of data from the automated election system so that the Comelec can return the leased equipment to the service provider, Smartmatic International.

The stripping activity is done as a standard operating procedure before the equipment is returned to Smartmatic, according to Comelec Chair Andres Bautista.

Marcos, a former senator and defeated vice presidential candidate, said the poll body’s decision is in violation of the PPO “to preserve and secure the integrity” of the VCMs and laptops.

In a three-page letter-manifestation filed in the Comelec on Thursday morning, Marcos is questioning the poll body’s July 12 resolution approving the stripping of the VCMs and the backup of the data and files in the secure digital (SD) cards and laptops at its warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

“We would like to ask why the Comelec had to issue the said resolution approving the stripping of the VCM and the CCS (consolidation and canvassing system) laptop units despite knowledge of the PPO directing the Comelec to preserve and secure the integrity of all election documents and paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections,” part of the letter read.

The letter was signed by Marcos’ lawyer, Jose Amor Amorado. A staff member of Marcos’ camp filed the letter-manifestation before the Comelec’s law department and the office of Bautista.
Marcos’ camp pointed out that the PET, which was hearing the ex-senator’s electoral protest, issued a PPO to the Comelec on July 12.

Resolution ‘clearly violative’

The former senator lodged an electoral protest over the victory of Vice President Leni Robredo in the May 9 elections, which she won by a lead of 263,473 votes.

“We would like to know the reason for your issuance of the resolution, which is clearly violative of the express and clear directive of the PET to preserve and secure the integrity of all VCMs and CCS laptop units, among others,” the letter said.

Last month, the PET issued a PPO ordering the Comelec to “preserve and safeguard the integrity” of all the ballot boxes and their contents.

This includes the ballots, voter receipts and election returns, the list of voters, the audit and transmission logs, VCMs, CCS, SD cards, and all other documents and paraphernalia used in the vice presidential race.

Marcos’ spokesperson, lawyer Vic Rodriguez, said the PET’s order to preserve and safeguard the documents was very “express and clear.”

“We’re not saying the contents of the audit logs will change with the stripping activity. What we’re saying is, they are aware of the PET’s order to preserve and safeguard the integrity of the ballots and paraphernalia,” he said.

For updates on the electoral protest of Bongbong Marcos, click here.