Getting water? Guanzon scolds Smartmatic exec: 'Stay away'

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Tuesday, May 17, said Smartmatic should implement a "no-contact" rule in dealing with poll commissioners who will investigate them for an alleged breach in protocol.

Guanzon on Tuesday already reprimanded Marlon Garcia, Smartmatic’s project manager for the 2016 elections, for getting water in a dining room reserved for Comelec members.

This happened at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, where the Comelec is tallying votes for senators and party-list groups.

In an interview with reporters on Tuesday, Guanzon recalled: "I told him, 'What you are doing here? You should stay away from here. You’re under investigation.'" 

Guanzon added that she is "surprised" that Smartmatic officials continue roaming around the hallway and dining room reserved for Comelec officials.

Hands off, Smartmatic told 

Days ago, Guanzon said, she "already told somebody to tell Smartmatic people to please not go to the hallway of the commissioners." This was soon after the Comelec ordered an investigation into Smartmatic’s alleged breach in protocol.

She said of Tuesday's incident: "They’re not invited in that dining room because, you know, we talk about things there. We don’t like other people to know."

The Comelec is investigating Smartmatic for changing an election-related hash code without the permission of the Comelec en banc, or the 7-member commission sitting as a whole.

The hash code is part of the system receiving election results.

The hash code issue prompted the Comelec to also tighten security for its canvassing system at the PICC.

At the same time, Guanzon urged her colleagues on Monday, May 16, to bar Smartmatic officials from leaving the Philippines.

Smartmatic voters’ education head Karen Jimeno on Tuesday said Guanzon’s appeal is unnecessary. Jimeno said Smartmatic officials have no intention of leaving the Philippines in the face of the reported breach. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

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