The camp of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. had lamented the inaction of the Commission on Elections and the Bureau of Immigration on their request for a hold departure order against personnel of Smartmatic and the poll body who were charged for the violation of the Cybercrime Law in connection with the alleged unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server.
This developed after it was learned during Friday’s preliminary investigation of the case at the Manila Prosecutor’s Office that one of the respondents, specifically Smartmatic personnel Mauricio Herrera, had already left the country and is now in his home country of Panama. This despite Smartmatic’s earlier assurances that none of the respondents had plans of leaving the Philippines.
It could be recalled that Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon herself also called for the issuance of a HDO against the respondents after she learned of the unauthorized script change but Smartmatic said such action is unnecessary.
“Yun ang hindi natin maintindihan kaya yun ang dapat ipapaliwanag nila,” said complainant Abakada party list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, when asked after the proceedings on why Herrera was able to leave the country when he was reportedly here during the elections.
Dela Cruz, Campaign Adviser of Sen. Marcos, noted that until now neither the Comelec nor the Bureau of Immigration had acted on the request for a hold departure order against the respondents or for the respondents to be included in the watchlist of the Bureau.
Meanwhile the other respondents in the case, namely Smartmatic personnel Marlon Garcia, a Venezuelan national and head of the Technical Support Team; Elie Moreno, an Israeli national and Project Director and Neil Banigued, member of the Technical Support Team; and Comelec IT experts led by Rouie Peñalba, Nelson Herrera and Frances Mae Gonzalez were present in the proceedings and submitted their respective counter-affidavits.
The respondents were charged for the violation of Section 4(a) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or R.A. 10175, which prohibits “intentionally altering computer data, without right and altering and interfering with the functioning of a computer and computer network by inputting, deleting and altering computer data and program, without right or authority.”
Dela Cruz pointed out that shortly after the unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server, the lead of Marcos over his closest rival started to taper at a uniform rate, which experts had said was statistically almost close to impossible, until he was eventually overtaken. Sen. Marcos is set to file an election protest before the end of the month.
The next hearing on the case is scheduled for July 4 when the camp of Marcos is expected to file their reply to the counter-affidavits of the respondents.
Dela Cruz expressed confidence he has a strong case against the respondents.
“Ang pinag-uusapan lamang dito sa kanilang isinubmit meron ka bang authority na kalikutin mo yang system na yan, yang script na yan? Kung wala meron kang paglabag sa Cybercrime Law,” he said, noting that Garcia had already admitted altering the script without permission from the Comelec en banc.