Marcos urged to pay P2.08-B Comelec expenses due to his protest

Patty Pasion

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Marcos urged to pay P2.08-B Comelec expenses due to his protest
The P2.08 billion is the cost of the non-return of 97,365 vote-counting machines to technology provider Smartmatic

MANILA, Philippines – Lawyers of Vice President Leni Robredo insist former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr must shoulder the expenses that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has incurred because of his election protest.

Robredo’s lawyers Romulo Macalintal and Maria Bernadette Sardillo said they reiterated this in a motion filed before the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), on Tuesday, June 20.

In their motion, Robredo’s lawyers also asked the PET to direct the Comelec to clarify who should pay for the expenses the poll body mentioned in an earlier manifestation.

Following an order from the PET, the Comelec earlier provided an itemized list of expenses it may be required to pay under its contracts concerning the May 2016 automated elections.

The Comelec then said it is expecting to pay up to P2.08 billion due to the failure to return the 97,365 vote-counting machines (VCMs) to technology provider Smartmatic on or before December 1 last year.

Aside from this, the poll body also informed the PET that it is incurring a monthly fee of P5.62 million for the rental and operational expenses of its warehouse in Sta Rosa, Laguna.

Over P2.3 million of this is for the lease of the warehouse, P2.1 million for the equipment rental, P461,164 for salaries of personnel there, and around P261,280 for electricity and water costs.

Macalintal reiterated that these costs came in because of Marcos’ protest against Robredo, which was filed June 29 last year.

“Noong naghain ng election protest si Marcos noong June 2016, isa sa mga hiniling niya ay ang pagsasagawa ng technical examination at forensic investigation ng mga VCMs. At ang mga VCMs na iyan ay iyong ginamit sa lahat ng 92,508 clustered precincts,” Macalintal said.

(When Marcos filed his election protest in June 2016, one of his requests was to conduct a technical examination and forensic investigation of the VCMs. And these VCMs are those used in all 92,508 clustered precincts.)

He reiterated that Marcos blocked the Comelec’s closure and stripping activities for the VCMs. (READ: TIMELINE: Marcos-Robredo election case

The manifestation of the Vice President’s camp came as they are about to face another financial burden – settling the P7.7-million balance for the protest fee required by the PET on or before July 14.

Robredo was required to pay a total of P15.7 million for the service fee of the 31,278 established precincts she is contesting. She paid the first installment of P8 million on May 2.

Meanwhile, the PET required Marcos to pay P66 million for the 132,446 established precincts he is questioning. He paid the first half of P36 million on April 17, saying 40 donors helped him raise the money. The second installment of P30 million should be paid on or before July 14 as well.

Marcos’ spokesperson Vic Rodriguez called the latest motion a “brazen attempt” that “insults to the highest order the intelligence and sentiment of the Filipino people.”

“She is obviously in panic now that the case is moving. Instead of her usual thoughtless buck passing, why won’t she make her beloved Liberal Party (LP), Comelec, and partner Smartmatic accountable for the mess they did to our system?” he said.

Marcos accused Robredo and the LP of orchestrating massive electoral fraud – the basis of his election protest against her. –

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.