MANILA, Philippines – The camp of defeated vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr filed an urgent motion before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from returning “unused” vote counting machines (VCMs) to Smartmatic.
Comelec ruled that up to 1,356 unused VCMs are not within the scope of the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) issued by PET to preserve evidence of alleged electoral fraud. The poll body said they may be returned to the Smartmatic, which rented the machines to the Philippines.
Marcos counsel George Garcia argued that the Comelec decision is a violation of the PPO and is tantamount to contempt of court.
Garcia argued in an 11-page motion it is only the PET itself that can determine if the VCMs involved were not used in the May polls.
Marcos filed before PET an electoral protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo, who won in the May 2016 elections by a narrow margin of less than 300,000 votes, based on the Comelec tally. The Philippines has 56 million voters.
The PET is composed of Supreme Court justices.
Comelec started the process of returning the VCMs after Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim had written to PET Chairman, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno about the poll body’s ruling to grant the request of Smartmatic to release to them the 1,356 VCMs.
Another Marcos counsel, Jose Amor Amorado, said they were contingency machines that were deployed during the elections.
“These contingency machines were used during the last elections as contingency VCMs. Some of them were deployed admittedly during the earlier meetings in different areas. Some of them were left here in Sta Rosa. So because of lack of PET approval, the plan of Comelec to return the VCM to Smartmatic is vehemently opposed,” Amorado said.
Garcia also raised doubts against Comelec assurances that a simple examination of the VCMs and SD cards will show whether or not they were used in the polls.
“Indeed, the possibility of the switching of the VCMs and SD cards cannot be ruled out,” Garcia said.
Garcia wants a technical evaluation of the VCMs.
“For purposes of determining the inclusion or exclusion of the subject VCMs from the PPO, protestant Marcos implores the High Tribunal to direct the technical examination of the subject VCMs, their SD cards and the system logs containing the deployment and use of the VCMs during the 9 May 2016 Elections,” Garcia argued in the motion. – Rappler.com