Vice President candidate Sen. BongBong Marcos on Thursday bared that 150 supposedly unused Vote Counting Machines (VCM's) were found to have been tampered with corrupted memory cards, raising the possibility that the electronic evidence of fraud may have already been wiped out.
The supporters of Marcos, who are protesting the narrow election victory of Vice President Leni Robredo before the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET, again hit the COMELEC for violating an order to preserve all election equipment. The COMELEC it said they conducted a 14-hour activity to strip more than 1,000 VCM's at their warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Wednesday ahead of their turnover to equipment and technology provider Smartmatic.
The COMELEC earlier decided to grant Smartmatic's request to recall 1,365 VCM's that it said were neither deployed nor used in the May elections.
Wednesday's stripping activity, the Marcos camp said, was a "mockery of the judicial process and a travesty of electoral reforms." Marcos counsel Jose Amor Amorado said the poll body disregarded a precautionary protective order issued by PET to preserved all election materials.
"There was undue haste seen as erasing possible evidence," Amorado said. "We find it extremly incredible why COMELEC could openly defy such a lawful order of the highest court of the land just to accomodate Smartmatic, and appeared to be on a rush to turnover the VCM's to Smartmatic," He added.
Sole and exclusive jurisdiction Marcos did not participate in the stripping activity at the COMELEC warehouse in Laguna, maintaining that such a move must have the approval of the PET, which has sole and exclusive jurisdiction over his election protest.
The strippping activity started at around 10:30am and ended at 12 midnight. Representatives of Robredo, Senator Leila De Lima and former MMDA Chariman Francis Tolentino were present.
Tolentino is contesting the 12th senatorial slot won by De Lima. Also present was Smartmatic representative Ely Moreno. During the stripping activity, at least 150 boxes were segregated because of defects in the seals and presence of data in the SD cards.
Some VCM's had misiing SD cards. A total of 1,255 VCM's were cleared and expected to be turned over to Smartmatic on Thursday. The next stripping activity for the remaining VCM's will be on Nov. 2.
Amorado said the presence of the corrupted SD cards, when these were supposedly not deployed or used, was proof that the COMELEC should not have decided to release the VCM's. MArcos had petitionedthe PET to stop the stripping.
Tension occured between the camps of Robredo and Tolentino when the latter refused to take part in activity beyond the initially scheduled 5pm deadline. COMELEC Commissioner Christian Robert Lim however allowed the stripping until 12 midnight to "maximized the time".