FORMER senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday sought the help of the Supreme Court amid his ongoing election protest, accusing the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of defying the high court’s order to preserve and protect all data and equipment used during the May 9 elections.
In a seven-page manifestation, Marcos said the Comelec issued a “highly irregular” order to strip the data in the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and Canvassing and Consolidation System (CCS) laptop units.
This was despite the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) issued by the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), which is hearing Marcos’ allegations of election fraud against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
Vic Rodriguez, spokesman of the former senator, said the Comelec pushed through with the stripping even after the Marcos camp wrote the poll body four times asking it to preserve and secure all the data and audit logs contained in servers used during the elections.
“Instead of replying to the written requests and complying with its Constitutional mandate to preserve the integrity of the elections, the Comelec decided to unilaterally issue its highly questionable resolution on 12 July 2016,” Rodriguez told reporters after the filing the manifestation.
Rodriguez pointed out that on July 12, the PET publicly announced that it had granted Marcos’ prayer for a protective order in accordance with PET rules.
However, Marcos found out that on the same day, the Comelec issued a resolution approving the backup of SD cards and CCS units in connection with the stripping of the VCM and CCS scheduled on July 16.
“Was the timing of the same merely coincidental or was it meant to indirectly violate the terms of the PPO? Second, (since the stripping activity would be done on July 16, or four days after the public announcement of the PPO) was the Comelec trying to fast-track the stripping activity before the PPO could be officially served on them?” the Marcos manifestation said.
Rodriguez said the stripping of the VCMs and CCS units raised the possibility that election data could be tampered with because the Comelec resolution itself had admitted that “the audit logs during the election will be modified to include the activity performed after election.”
He also noted that the Comelec limited the stripping activity to its warehouse in Santa Rosa, Laguna when there
were six other warehouses—in La Union, Albay, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental and South Cotobato—which were said to have been kept secret from political parties and candidates.
Rodriguez also claimed that many of Marcos’ witnesses were harassed by supporters of Robredo.
Witnesses from Quezon, Cavite, Leyte, Masbate, Northern Samar, Cebu City and Zamboanga City complained that they were being forced to recant their statements in exchange for money, he said. Others were threatened with criminal cases for perjury or falsification.
“Next week, protestant Marcos will be submitting an additional manifestation to this honorable tribunal and submit the testimonies of the complaining witnesses,” Rodriguez said.