Manila Bulletin – Senate to issue subpoena on audit logs of Comelec during 2016 elections

By Vanne Elaine Terrazola | Manila Bulletin

The Senate will be issuing a subpoena on the audit logs of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the 2016 elections.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he will issue a subpoena duces tecum to summon the Comelec’s audit logs and other pertinent election documents to shed light on the allegations of fraud during the May, 2016 national polls.

Sotto has been asking for the said documents since he exposed last March the supposed irregularities that transpired before and after the elections, such as the alleged early transmission of votes.

He raised anew his request at the hearing of joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections system (JCOC-AES).

Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino, like in previous hearings, maintained that such documents were covered by a precautionary protection order of the Presidential Election Tribunal, and that they should secure a permit before releasing them.

Sotto, in the hearing, moved to subpoena the documents as he asked JCOC-AES co-chair Sen. Koko Pimentel to write his office for the matter.

“My office, the Office of the Senate President through the Committee will issue a subpoena deuces tecum to secure his transcript within the day,” Sotto told reporters.

“It has been lingering for a long time already, we are about to enter the period for the 2019 election and malabo pa rin (it’s still not clear),” he added.

Sotto said Comelec’s procedures were “questionable” as he cited the continued patronage of Smartmatic as its provider of the vote counting machines, despite the controversies hounding them.

In the hearing, resource speakers from various political parties and election watchdog groups pointed out the Comelec’s supposedly incomplete audit logs, which contained the election returns and the processes involved.

They also claimed anomalies in the counting of votes, and glitches in the Comelec’s system, such as the square markings in ballots, and the inclusion of the “ñ” in the hash codes — issues that were also raised in the electoral protest between Vice President Leni Robredo and losing vice-presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos.

Tolentino and Smartmatic Project Director Pravir Dahiya both admiitted the glitches but maintained that the election results were not compromised.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body’s officials are set to meet on the issues so they can respond to the allegations.

He said the Comelec is standing by the results of the elections.

“I don’t know kung bakit hindi binabatawan ang mga allegations na ganun pero if you go back to the record, you’ll know at every point, sinasagot ‘yan. It’s really a question of what people or what certain people will accept as a valid explanation,” Jimenez said.

“As far as the Comelec is concerned, there is one set of facts and that’s what we’re sticking to,” he added.

Sotto, still, clarified that the 2016 polls remain credible despite the “incredible things that have happened.”

Pimentel, for his part, said Comelec should explain the glitches.

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