Comelec won’t stop quick count

Rhodina Villanueva - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will not stop the unofficial quick count as requested by vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

“It is provided for by the law so that we can have transparent elections. The people have the right to information so that there is no room for doubt on the credibility of the elections. If we hide it, people may think there is something wrong,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told a press briefing.

In an earlier report, Marcos urged the Comelec to terminate the ongoing unofficial count being conducted by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) amid allegations of dagdag-bawas or vote padding and vote shaving.

Guanzon said Marcos must first file a petition with the poll body before they could act on his request to stop the PPCRV quick count.

“Perhaps Senator Marcos can give us substantial evidence of bad faith or fraud. The en banc can consider that, but otherwise, under the law, the quick count is allowed even while the canvassing of votes is still ongoing,” said Guanzon.

She added, “He has not written us. His lawyers have not filed anything. We cannot act on anything that has not been filed.”

Marcos’ camp also said that the count has reached the 90-percent mark and that it was designed not to be completed to avoid the possibility of confusion and conflict with the official canvass.

Marcos appealed to his supporters to stay calm in the wake of his camp’s claim of irregularities in the unofficial quick count of votes that favors the administration’s vice presidential candidate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

Robredo and Marcos are in a tight race for the vice presidency, with Robredo ahead in the counting by over 200,000 votes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Marcos also sought clarification from the Comelec regarding a new computer command introduced in its transparency server after the May 9 elections. This allegedly triggered the dramatic increase of votes for Robredo and the continuing regression of Marcos votes.

Francisca Huang, Marcos legal counsel, told reporters during a press conference at the senator’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City that they received information that at about 7:30 p.m. on May 9, a new command was introduced to the transparency server - the same server from which the PPRCV obtains data for its quick count.

“Apparently, the execution of this computer command was able to alter the hash codes of the packet data. Furthermore, the introduction of the new script is suspect because it was after this time that Sen. Marcos’ lead over Rep. Robredo started to erode at a rather distinctive pattern,” she said.

Huang asked the Comelec if the poll body knew about the introduction of the new script and how the script affected the data and data reception of the transparency server.

She also said that there has been an understanding that the transparency server could only receive data from the vote counting machines (VCMs).

“In this regard, we are rather perplexed as to how the PPCRV quick count reached over 95 percent of the total clustered precincts and 100 percent in certain cities and provinces. We confirmed that a number of VCMs were unable to transmit to the local board of canvassers in certain cities and provinces,” she said.

Huang also manifested their continuing reservation about the PPCRV quick count because it ran counter to the exit polls in all areas nationwide, which show Marcos won the vice presidential race.

Miriam defends Marcos

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who lost anew in her latest bid for the presidency, has broken her silence and defended her runningmate Marcos in questioning his slide in the ongoing quick count that placed him second behind Robredo.

“The rollercoaster ride of vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. invites comparison with a garrison state. In such a state, the authoritarian government feels free to manufacture numbers as they are needed,” Santiago said in a brief statement issued by her media relations office yesterday morning.

“I find it astounding that Marcos should have led in the vice presidential surveys for many months, until the penultimate month, when suddenly the administration could jack up survey results to finally overtake him,” Santiago said.

“This is an eventuality that will cause the people of the democratic world to shake their heads and question the values of the society it produced,” Santiago said.

Santiago placed fifth and last in the presidential race, with frontrunner Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte having over 15 million votes in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) transparency server partial and unofficial results as of 10:38 a.m. yesterday, and Liberal Party standard-bearer Manuel Roxas II a distant second with 9,650,776 votes. Santiago had 1,415,876 votes.

“As long as we stand for something, all our energy and time are not lost,” Santiago also posted on Twitter yesterday morning.

She posted her photo, with a caption that read: “Cheer up, people! Ganyan lang talaga ang buhay (that’s life). The night is darkest just before the sun rises.”

“You have to have a place where all is quiet, and you’re judged not for what you have achieved, but just for what you are. And if the world has turned against you, there must be a place where you can return, where you are welcomed with the same open arms, because they know that politics comes and goes, but victory and defeat are the same,” she added.

But Malacañang categorically denied yesterday accusations made by Santiago that the administration was padding Robredo’s numbers.

“The allegation is untrue and unfounded. The Commission on Elections is fully responsible for overseeing the automated election system and the executive branch has no part in this process,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said.

Coloma also denied claims of Marcos that the ruling Liberal Party has a plan to impeach presumptive president Duterte and eventually install Robredo by making sure she wins the vice presidency.

“A very wide imagination has been used for that scenario,” Coloma said in Filipino  in a press briefing yesterday.

Coloma said this is just a figment of some people’s imagination. Impeachment could only originate from Congress and there is still no assurance that the new Congress would be dominated by administration lawmakers.

Marcos’ campaign adviser, Abakada party-list Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, said they have their own count that showed Marcos leading in the tight vice presidential race.

“Not only confident, we are certain because we already have a count and we know how the count will go,” said Dela Cruz at a media forum in Greenhills, in San Juan City.

He noted that more than a million votes, including votes from overseas Filipino workers, are not yet transmitted and they believe that the senator has enough votes to offset the slim lead of Robredo.

“We already have the results in our documents. We will compare these [results] with whatever will be released by the Comelec [Commission on Elections] because up to now there is a lot of transmission going on,” said Dela Cruz.

Meanwhile, supporters of Marcos are reportedly using social media to gather participants to stage protest rallies to show indignation over the alleged irregularities.

“I am appealing to my supporters who are planning to hold rallies to stay calm,” Marcos said. 

Marcos’ supporters also arrived at his campaign headquarters in Mandaluyong City to show their support.

He told his supporters and even non-supporters who are advocating honest elections to remain calm but vigilant, and refrain from taking actions that would only ignite violence, hurt people, destroy properties and disturb the normal activities of ordinary people. – With Rainier Allan Ronda, Perseus Echeminada, Christina Mendez, Non Alquitran

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