Week 29: January 16 – 22, 2017
On 20 December 2016, BBM received a Notice from COMELEC Commissioner Christian Lim informing him that COMELEC will be STRIPPING the VCM SD cards and CCS Kits beginning 9 January 2017 onwards at the COMELEC warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.
It will be recalled that 3 months earlier, BBM already opposed the said STRIPPING activity by filing a Comment with the PET. BBM argued that the STRIPPING activity would violate the PET’s clear and express directive that the poll body preserve all the election material used in the May 2016 elections. He also informed the PET that although he had formally written to the COMELEC 4 times — on May 31, June 2, June 16 and July 14, 2016 – requesting for a forensic audit of the VCMs and CCS laptop units used during the May 2016 elections, the poll body ignored all his written requests for an audit.
In its 8 November 2016 Resolution, however, the PET allowed COMELEC to proceed with the STRIPPING activity for all the VCM and CCS Kits.
(click here to see the May 31, June 2, June 16, July 14, 2016 letters of BBM)
(click here to see the 5 September 2016 Comment of BBM)
(click here to see the 8 November 2016 Resolution from the PET)
(click here to see the 20 December 2016 Notice from COMELEC)
During the STRIPPING activity briefing held at Sta. Rosa, Laguna on 5 January 2017, COMELEC Commissioner Christian Lim informed the parties & their representatives that per SET Resolution No. 16-19, they were ordered not to strip 151 VCMs because the same formed part of the areas being protested by former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino. According to Commissioner Lim, the poll body would be issuing a written clarification regarding this. As of this date, however, no clarification has yet been issued.
A week later, on 11 January 2017, BBM received a Notice from COMELEC informing him that the poll body would be conducting a DECRYPTION activity at Palacio del Gobernador on 16 January 2017. The said DECRYPTION activity would involve the 26 — out of the 127 SD cards — that were found to contain data during the stripping of 1,356 unused VCMs last October 2016.
It is important to note that the other 101 SD cards were not part of the DECRYPTION activity since these were set aside by the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) upon the motion by former Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino in his election protest before the SET.
Since the DECRYPTION activity was supposed to involve unused SD cards, all the parties & their representatives who were present at the Palacio del Gobernador on 16 January 2017 were surprised to learn that 13 out the supposedly unused 26 SD cards had folders containing data in them. Because of this, the PET stepped in and ordered COMELEC to reset the DECRYPTION activity.
On 20 January 2017, BBM received a copy of the Notice from the PET resolving incidental matters relative to the election protest.
As of this date, there remain only two (2) major pending motions that require resolution by the PET:
1) the 9 September 2016 Motion to strike out and/or expunge Robredo’s Answer with Counter-Protest for being filed out of time; and
2) the 20 September 2016 Manifestation with Motion to Admit Attached Verification.
As of this date, we are waiting for the PET :
• to issue a Retrieval Order [per undertaking # 7 of 21] and
• to issue a Notice of Preliminary Conference [per undertaking # 8 of 21]