Marcos pushes electoral protest with petition vs Comelec return of VCMs to Smartmatic

Posted on October 24, 2016

FORMER SENATOR Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. in a motion last Friday, Oct. 21, asked the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from releasing 1,356 “unused” vote-counting machines (VCMs) to Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., the electronic voting company tapped in this year’s general elections.

Mr. Marcos’s motion came on the heels of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s remarks in his state visit to China last week introducing Mr. Marcos as the “next vice-president if he wins his [electoral] protest.” Mr. Marcos took part in that state visit.

After an early lead in the election count, Mr. Marcos eventually lost in the vice-presidential race by a slim margin of about 200,000 votes to Maria Leonor “Leni” G. Robredo. He has filed an election protest before the Supreme Court which will hear his petition as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

In his 11-page Urgent Manifestation and Motion, Mr. Marcos argued it is the Supreme Court that has the authority to release the VCMs and determine that, indeed, they were “unused,” as the Comelec has claimed.

According to the poll body, the machines were not deployed during the elections and, therefore, are not covered by the precautionary protection order (PPO) that the PET issued on the Comelec last August. The Comelec is set to return the VCMs to Smartmatic this Wednesday, Oct. 26.

As explained in the Comelec Web site, a PPO may be issued “where allegations in a protest so warrant, and simultaneously with the issuance of summons, the court shall order the municipal treasurer and election officer concerned to make immediate steps or measures to safeguard the integrity of all ballot boxes, lists of voters and voting records, books of voters and other documents or paraphernalia used in election.”

Mr. Marcos has maintained the release of the VCMs to Smartmatic is “violative of the PPO issued by the Tribunal and [subject to] contempt of court.”

A lawyer for Mr. Marcos, Jose Amor Amorado, had claimed earlier the VCMs were “contingency machines.” He added: “Some of them were deployed admittedly during the earlier meetings in different areas. Some of them were left here in Sta. Rosa. So because of lack of PET approval, the plan of Comelec to return the VCM[s] to Smartmatic is vehemently opposed.”

Mr. Marcos -- whose family Mr. Duterte counts as among his supporters -- said last June that he will “eventually” take his ‘seat’ that is being kept warm for me.”

Mr. Duterte was in Tuguegarao City on Sunday to lead relief efforts in the wake of super-typhoon which struck this region last week.

Talking about the late Marcos patriarch, the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, Mr. Duterte said: Alam mo, sa totoo lang, isa sa pinaka-bright Pilipino: Marcos. Sayang lang. Sayang lang. Nanghinayang ako (You know, honestly, one of the brightest Filipinos: Marcos. What a waste. What a waste. I regret this). -- Kristine Joy V. Patag, with Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral