A Smartmatic engineer named as a respondent in a cybercrime complaint filed by defeated vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has left the Philippines, a hearing before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office was told on Friday.
The engineer, Mauricio Herrera, has left the country and is now in Panama, according to Marcos’ political adviser and Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, who is also one of the complainants.
Marcos had earlier filed a complaint against Smartmatic, including Herrera and the other engineers, for commiting a security breach by changing the script of the computer system without the consent of the Comelec en banc during the votes’ transmission.
The Comelec has denied that there was any manipulation of transmission of votes even with the change of script.
It was not known when the Smartmatic engineer left for Panama.
All respondents were present except Herrera. Despite that, however, Deputy City Prosecutor Rector Macapagal instructed his lawyers to submit the respondent’s affidavit on July 4.
Cruz could not give more details on Herrera’s background.
The engineer’s companions at Friday’s hearing declined to give any comment when asked by reporters.
In attendance were Marlon Garcia, who is from Venezuela and heads the Smartmatic operations, Elie Moreno and Neil Baniqued of Smartmatic, technology provider to the May 9 elections.
Smartmatic is represented by lawyers from Angara, Abello, Concepcion, Regala & Cruz (ACRA) law office.
From the Commission on Elections (Comelec), those present were Rouie Peñalba, Nelson Herrera and Frances Mae Gonzales.
Dela Cruz said they were surprised at how Herrera was able to leave the country when they had asked the Comelec to place all the respondents on a watch list of the Bureau of Immigration and Deportation (BID).
At the hearing, respondents from the Comelec and Smartmatic submitted their sworn affidavits.
The Marcos camp was also instructed to submit its response to counter-affidavits of the respondents.
“We will review their answers to our complaints. The main question there is, ‘Do they have the authority to change the hash code at the height of the transmission of votes?’” dela Cruz told reporters.
The cybercase stemmed from an admission of Smartmatic and the Comelec personnel that they changed the hash code in the evening of May 9 when Marcos was leading Leni Robredo by almost 1 million votes.
After the hash code was replaced, the transmission stopped for almost an hour and when it resumed the margin of Marcos declined continuously until he was overtaken and the Bicolano lawmaker’s margin was steady at 200,000 votes.
Marcos claimed that the respondents committed security breach because they were not allowed to change anything in the program without the consent of the Comelec en banc, especially at the height of the transmission of votes.
The Comelec denied that there was any manipulation.
But Marcos insisted that they violated the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2010 or Republic Act 10175.
Aside from this case before the Manila fiscal’s office, the senator is set to file an electoral protest before June 30 before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
Marcos also submitted a motion before the Comelec to allow system audit of all servers, including the alleged “queue” server, which was allegedly used to manipulate the results of the May 9 polls.
The Ilocano senator claimed he is the real winner of the vice presidential elections and that if the counting of votes were correct he could win by a margin of 3 million votes.