In a seven-page manifestation, Marcos, through his counsel George Garcia, said the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has issued a “highly irregular” Order to strip the data in the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and Canvassing and Consolidation System (CCS) laptop units despite the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) of the Tribunal.
This despite the fact, according to Garcia, that they wrote the COMELEC four times asking them to preserve and secure all the data and audit logs contained in the servers used in the May 9, 2016 elections.
“Instead of replying to the written requests and complying with its Constitutional mandate to preserve the integrity of the elections, the COMELEC decided to unilaterally issue its highly questionable Resolution on 12 July 2016,” he said.
Garcia pointed out that on July 12, 2016, the PET publicly announced that it had granted Marcos’ prayer for a PPO in accordance with Rule 36 of the 2010 Rules of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
However, the former Senator’s camp later found out that on the same day, the Comelec also issued a resolution approving the backing-up of SD cards and CCS units in view of the stripping of the VCM and CCS scheduled on July 16, 2016.
Garcia said the said Comelec resolution was highly irregular because it was issued on the same day the High Court publicly announced that it was giving due course to Marcos’ election protest.
“(W)as the timing of the same merely coincidental or was it meant to indirectly violate the terms of the PPO? Second, (since the stripping activity would be done on July 16 — or four days after the public announcement of the PPO) was the COMELEC trying to fast track the stripping activity before the PPO could be officially served on them?,” Garcia asked the Tribunal.
Garcia said the stripping of the VCMs and CCS units raised the possibility that election data would be tampered with because the Comelec Resolution itself admitted that “the audit logs during the election will be modified to include the activity performed after election.”
In addition, according to Garcia, Comelec only limited the stripping activity to its warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna when there were six other warehouses used by the poll body in the elections which were kept secret from the political parties and other candidates.
“Apart from the Sta. Rosa, Laguna warehouse, there were other “officially sanctioned” COMELEC warehouses located in in La Union, Albay, Cebu, Zamboanga del Sur, Misamis Oriental and South Cotabato. The deployment of the 6 additional warehouses were suddenly authorized on 3 May 2016 – barely SIX days before the May 9, 2016 elections. Its existence was kept a secret from protestant Marcos and all the other political parties who had a stake in the recently concluded elections,” he stressed.
He added, “(v)erily, the issuance of the Resolution approving the backing up of the SD Cards and CCS units and the subsequent stripping of the VCM and CCS laptop units was a blatant violation of the express and clear directive of this Honorable Tribunal as contained in the PPO, which categorically ordered COMELEC to preserve and safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes and their contents which included voter registration records, audit and transmission logs, automated election equipment and other documents and paraphernalia used in all the 92,509 clustered precincts nationwide.”
Garcia also disclosed that many of their witnesses were harassed by supporters of former Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.
He said that several witnesses of the former Senator, specifically those coming from Quezon, Cavite, Leyte, Masbate, Northern Samar, Cebu City and Zamboanga City complained that they were being forced by these people to recant their statements in exchange for money. Others were threatened with possible criminal cases for perjury or falsification if they did not change their testimonies.
“Several witnesses of Protestant Marcos have complained that certain officials have been coercing and forcing them to recant their testimonies, in exchange for monetary consideration. Other witnesses were told that if they refused to recant their testimony, they would be reported to the authorities for investigation and prosecution for alleged falsification or perjury,” he stated.
These witnesses, Garcia pointed out, have decided to come forward and execute their Affidavits before Judges and fiscals to thwart these nefarious activities by the Robredo camp.
"Next week, Marcos will be submitting an additional Manifestation to this Honorable Tribunal and submit the testimonies of the complaining witnesses,” Garcia said. (By Christopher Lloyd T. Caliwan, PNA)