Guanzon to Comelec: Bar Smartmatic from leaving

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon issued a memorandum to her colleagues on Monday, May 16, urging them to bar officers of technology provider Smartmatic from leaving the Philippines.

Guanzon urged the Comelec en banc, or the commission sitting as a whole, "to write and direct Smartmatic Philippines to issue a memorandum and/or an order prohibiting their officers and employees from leaving the country."

She said this prohibition should apply "until the investigation is terminated and concluded."

Smartmatic recently drew flak for changing an election-related hash code, which is part of the system receiving election results, without the Comelec en banc's permission. (READ: Comelec tightens security after Smartmatic breach)

The reported breach happened at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila, which hosts the server upon which media outfits base their unofficial tallies.

Bautista: We should follow the law

The camp of Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr has cited the unauthorized hash code change to insinuate cheating in the vice presidential race.

Guanzon said: "Considering further the public interest involved and the urgency of the matter, I encourage the en banc to act on the issue with haste and dispatch."

Sought for a reaction to Guanzon's request, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista noted that "there is an ongoing investigation that is being conducted." 

In fact, Bautista said, the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections has called for a meeting on the hash code issue.

Bautista said: "We're open to any and all investigations and hearings, provided that they give us the opportunity to finish first this canvass."

Asked if Smartmatic should be barred from leaving, he added: "I think we should follow the law. What does the law provide? Right now, there is just an investigation. I don’t think anybody is thinking about leaving." – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and 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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