The camp of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday blamed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Bureau of Immigration for the “escape” of a Smartmatic emgineer facing criminal charges in connection with the May 9 elections.
The Marcos camp had asked the Comelec to ask the Immigration bureau to issue a hold departure order (HDO) against all personnel of Smartmatic accused of violating the Cybercrime Law but the request was not granted.
Smartmatic is the technology provider to last month’s local and national polls.
The respondents were charged for their alleged involvement in unauthorized alteration of the script of the transparency server at the height of the transmission of votes just hours after voting closed.
At the preliminary investigation of the case on Friday at the Manila Prosecutor’s Office, it was revealed that Smartmatic employee Mauricio Herrera had left the country and is now in his home country of Panama.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon had pushed for the issuance of an HDO against the respondents but Smartmatic said such action is unnecessary.
“Yun ang hindi natin maintindihan kaya yun ang dapat ipapaliwanag nila [That is what we do not understand, and it is what they must explain],” said Abakada party list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz, Marcos political adviser and one of the complainants.
De la Cruz said until now, neither the Comelec nor the Bureau of Immigration had acted on their request for a hold departure order or for the respondents to be included in the watch list of the bureau.
The other respondents in the case–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 violation of Section 4(a) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or Republic Act 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.”
De la 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.
Marcos is set to file an election protest before the end of the month.
De la Cruz expressed confidence that they have 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 [What is in question here is whether they had the authority to alter the system, the script. Otherwise, the Cybercrime Law has been violated],” he said, noting that Garcia had already admitted altering the script without permission from the Comelec en banc.