Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. yesterday filed a manifestation before the Supreme Court complaining about the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) supposed violation of the precautionary protection order (PPO), which the SC issued ordering the poll body to collect and preserve all necessary documents and devices pertinent to the election protest he filed against Vice President Leni Robredo.
In a seven-page manifestation, Marcos told SC that on the same day it issued the PPO on July 12, 2016, the Comelec en banc also issued a resolution approving the recommendation of Commissioner Christian Robert Lim to conduct a stripping activity of the vote counting machines (VCMs) and consolidated canvassing system (CCS) laptop units used during the last May 9 elections.
Marcos branded as “highly-irregular” the Comelec resolution considering that it was issued soon after the SC issued the PPO.
“Since the Comelec resolution stated that the stripping of the VCM and CCS laptop units ‘would be conducted starting July 16, 2016, it appears that ‘backdoor plans’ were already being made to erase the evidence needed for the election protest to prosper,” the manifestation read.
“Thus, if Comelec already made plans to erase the election data four days after the public announcement of the PPO -- could it be that the Comelec was trying to fast track the stripping of election data before the PPO could officially be served on them?” it noted.
Marcos claimed that there is a possibility that all the election data will be tampered with considering that the Comelec resolution itself admitted that audit logs during election will be modified with the backing-up of files from the CSC laptops.
Marcos also indicated that the decision of the Comelec to limit the stripping activity only to its warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna is highly-suspicious considering that there were six other warehouses where several VCMs and CCS laptop units were stored during the May elections.
“Verily, the issuance of the resolution approving the backing up of the SD cards and CCS units and the subsequent stripping of the VCMs and CCS laptop units is a blatant violation of the express and clear directive of this Honorable Tribunal as contained in the PPO, which categorically ordered Comelec to preserve and safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes and their contents, voter registration records, audit and transmission logs, automated election equipment, and other documents and paraphernalia used in all the 92,509 clustered precincts nationwide,” the manifestation stated.
The Comelec earlier said the stripping of VCMs and CCS is necessary to be able to return the leased machines to poll technology provider, Smartmatic.
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista also clarified that they have not yet started with the stripping and they will abide by the order of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) and the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).