MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – A lawyer for presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte in Sarangani on Thursday afternoon, May 5, said she received a report that a vote counting machine in Barangay Nalus in Kiamba town "showed results counted for [Mar] Roxas when [Rodrigo] Duterte was voted for in the ballot.”
"Because of this information, all of us have become paranoid. It’s so frustrating that we have to watch our votes against Comelec itself,” lawyer Alena Gale Palileo Yabes told Rappler.
Comelec’s final testing and sealing (FTS) of the VCMs began on May 2 and will last until May 6.
"All we can do is file a complaint, put it in the minutes of the BEI (Board of Election Inspectors), said Yabes, the Duterte campaign’s legal counsel in Kiamba, Maasin, and Maitum towns in Sarangani.
Yabes has also instructed her watchers to check the VCM hash code.
"If you will see a different hash code...please report it. This means that this is not the right hash code and that VCM has been compromised, therefore could be used for electoral fraud or cheating,” Yabes said.
The VCMs prints out their system hash code – a unique identifier of any software program – as part of the initial report that is printed out when a voting precinct opens. According to Yabes, the hash code for the VCM in Barangay Nalus is A14791C42FDA957C47DBE3EA52FB2AA39DBFDAAFF683687A80B69F61A113EOF7.
Meanwhile, a viral Facebook post by Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles claimed that similar cases have been reported in Lanao Sur's first district and in Mati City in Davao Oriental.
However, Comelec Chairman Andres Baustista on Thursday belied Nograles' claim in a GMA news report, saying that he had inquired with the provincial election supervisors of Lanao del Sur and Mati City.
Edwin Lacierda, the campaign spokesmen of Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II, also dismissed as "misinformation" reports in social media that glitches in the VCM testing have led to votes for Duterte being credited to Roxas. (READ: Roxas spokesman: 'We will win this the honest way')
"There’s been misinformation on Duterte votes being converted to Mar [votes]. I’ve spoken to our lawyers and in the places it allegedly happened, it never happened," Lacierda stressed even as he urged the public to report similar incidents to Comelec.
Duterte’s party, PDP-Laban, has alerted its members who are participating in the FTS to be vigilant. It asked witnesses to issue affidavits so the party can file the necessary complaints with the Comelec and the Supreme Court.
"Please be advised that all people who participated in the testing and sealing of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) which registered Mar Roxas instead of Rodrigo Duterte should execute an affidavit stating the VCM machine number and the polling precinct and polling center, municipality and province. We will file an appropriate petition with the Comelec and the Supreme Court on this matter," PDP-Laban spokesperson Paola Alvarez said in a statement.
The Comelec earlier said it will file cases against voters who will make "frivolous" complaints, including unsubstantiated claims that their voting receipts show a set of votes different from the one on their ballot, a rule which critics say is baseless under the Omnibus Election Code. (READ: It's final: Jail awaits voters with 'frivolous' complaints)
"We are lawyers. We go by the book," Yabes said, "We are waiting for Comelec to address cases when the VCM has a different hash code and if it will print out a different result." – Rappler.com