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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has informed the Supreme Court (SC) that it has approved the release of 1,356 vote counting machines (VCMs) in view of the election protest of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo. In a two-page letter dated September 29, the poll body informed the en banc through Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno of its decision approving the request of election technology provider Smartmatic-TIM for the release of the VCMs which were delivered to the Comelec for contingency purposes during the May 9, 2016 national and local elections.

“Please be advised that the commission has approved the request of Smartmatic-TIM 2016 Inc. (SMIT) for the release of 1,356 units of vote counting machines which were delivered to the Commission on Elections for contingency purposes during the last May 9, 2016 national, local and ARMM elections,” the poll body’s letter said. It would be recalled that the SC sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) has issued a precautionary order to preserve the integrity and safety of all the ballots, ballot boxes, voters’ receipts, election returns, computerized voters’ list, audit logs, transmission results, log files and other documents and paraphernalia used in the May 2016 elections due to Marcos’ election protest. In its letter, the poll body said the 1,356 VCMs “were not actually deployed and/or used during said elections, and as such, the commission considers the same as not with the scope of the Precautionary Protection Order (PPO) issued by the honorable tribunal.” The PET earlier had issued the PPO, which covers all the ballot boxes and their contents, including the ballots, voter’s receipts and election returns, the lists of voters, particularly the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL), and voters registration records (VRRs), and the books of voters and the audit logs, transmission logs and all log files. Also covered by the PPO were all other documents or paraphernalia used in the elections, including the automated election equipment and records such as the VCMs, CCS units, Secure Digital cards (main and back up), and the other data storage devices containing electronic data and ballot images, evidencing the conduct and the results of the elections in all of 92,509 clustered precincts that functioned in the last elections.

Marcos earlier had said he decided to file the electoral protest due to the series of frauds, anomalies and irregularities that marred the May 9 elections and that such activities made sure he would lose to Robredo, the vice presidential candidate of the administration’s Liberal Party. Last Thursday, President Duterte made a controversial statement on Marcos protest case against Robredo’s questionable win in the last May 9 polls. Talking to the Filipino community in Beijing, Duterte said that Marcos, who was with him in the stage during his speech, could be the country’s new Vice President if it is proven that there was rigging in the elections where Robredo won by a thin margin over the former Ilocano legislator. “I have here with me, Bongbong. If ever his protest succeeds, we could have a new vice president,” the President said, which immediately gathered cheers from the audience. Based on the official election results, Marcos lost by 263,467 votes (14,155,344 total votes) to the Liberal Party (LP) vice presidential bet Robredo who got 14,418,817 total votes. Marcos, in his poll protest, said that there was a “massive cheating” that he labeled as the LP’s “Plan B” seeking a recount in 27 provinces and cities covering 36,000 precincts. He particularly wants to nullify the poll results in Basilan, Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur. Source: tribune.net

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