By Macon Ramos Araneta | Manila Standard Today
THE camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Thursday deplored the media ban imposed by Smartmatic during its “clarificatory presentation” of the Automated Election System before the Manila Prosecutors’ Office.
Lawyer Adrian Aumentado, counsel of former Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, Marcos’ political adviser, said it was highly irregular why Smartmatic would want to bar the media from attending the presentation of the AES when the case filed was all about transparency.
He insisted that excluding the media from the presentation was tantamount to denying the public’s right to know the processes used in their election.
“We are for transparency and that is what this case is all about, and we just find it highly unusual that the media would be excluded from such presentation when it is after all a clarificatory hearing,” Aumentado said.
The panel of prosecutors also expressed surprise during the hearing.
When a member of the Smartmatic team said they were merely concerned about the logistical and practical requirements if members of the media were around, the panel said such would not be a problem since they could always arrange for a place for everyone including the media to be accommodated.
This developed after Smartmatic personnel, instead of filing their Rejoinder to the complaint filed against them, filed a manifestation and motion to hold a clarificatory presentation to explain the AES and the other technical aspects of the case without the presence of any other party including the media.
Aumentado also expressed surprise that Smartmatic would be the one to initiate a clarificatory presentation when the initiative should be coming from the panel of prosecutors.
He also asked to be given time to file their opposition and/or manifestation to the motion.
The panel, however, said the move would give them a chance to clarify certain technical aspects of the case without prejudice to whatever motion the former Senator’s counsels may file on the matter.
They then set the clarificatory presentation to July 21, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.
Dela Cruz filed charges against Smartmatic for “intentionally altering computer data without permission 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 said their act of changing the script of the Transparency Server on the night of the elections at the height of the transmission of votes without authority constituted a clear violation of the law.