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Comelec to Marcos: File complaint with Congress

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista advised vice presidential aspirant Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to file a complaint with Congress if he has proof of fraud in the official vote count.

In a television interview, Bautista yesterday said the proper venue for Marcos to complain is Congress, since it is the legislature that is empowered to do the canvassing of votes for president and vice president and proclaim the winners.

Bautista said the Comelec and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) are not the proper venues.

Bautista said Marcos could present a complaint if he notices something wrong in the official count that is yet to start.

PPCRV is making an unofficial tally based on results transmitted to the Comelec transparency server.

The camp of Marcos has cried fraud after his lead of about 900,000 votes in the early hours of the PPCRV tabulation on the night of May 9 was gradually wiped out.

What strengthened its suspicion was a “cosmetic change” Comelec automation service provider Smartmatic has admitted making in the software for the transparency server so that the name of Sen. Sergio Osmeña III would be correctly reflected.

The change was made when it was noted that the letter ñ in Osmeña appeared as a question mark.

Bautista reiterated that the minor tweak did not alter the election results as reflected in the PPCRV tally.

“The numbers are self-explanatory,” he said.

Administration vice presidential candidate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo is leading Marcos by more than 200,000 votes in the unofficial tally.

Some Smartmatic personnel, who are Venezuelan citizens, are under investigation for the minor tweaking they did.

Bautista said he does not think that these foreigners would flee to escape questioning and potential liability.

“They have reasons to remain here. We haven’t paid Smartmatic in full yet,” he said.

He admitted though that the Comelec does not have the power to stop them from leaving.

Marcos thanked his supporters as he vowed yesterday to insure that the true will of the people in the last election would prevail.

In a statement, the senator said he was extremely grateful for the overwhelming display of trust and confidence the overseas Filipino workers have given to him as shown in the results of the Overseas Absentee Voting.

“As our country’s new heroes, they deserve more from the government and they can always count on my support,” he said.

Marcos also expressed gratitude to the Ilocano voters who rallied behind his call for a revived and stronger Solid North, and Metro Manila voters who gave him a clear majority, and all the voters nationwide that supported his call for national unity.

He said, however, this trust bestowed on him also carries with it the responsibility to protect each and every vote cast for him.

“Rest assured, I will do everything in my power to ensure that in the end the true will of the Filipino people will prevail in this election,” Marcos said.

Meanwhile, Bautista said the Comelec plans to refurbish its 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines for use in future elections.

He said it would be cheaper for the poll body to improve the PCOS units than to purchase the vote counting machines (VCMs) it used in the May 9 elections.

He said the VCMs are the same as the PCOS units except for some improvements.

The Comelec under former chairman Sixto Brillantes, bought the PCOS from Smartmatic for more than P10 billion.

Smartmatic refused to refurbish them before the May 9 voting for lack of time, forcing the Comelec to lease VCMs from the Venezuelan firm for about P8 billion.

Marcos is set to ask the Comelec to open the Automated Election System for a systems audit after uncovering irregularities while tabulating results of the May 9 elections based on the Certificates of Canvass.

Jose Amor Amorado, head of the BBM for VP Quick-Count center, said that according to their information technology experts, only a systems audit would show if the election results were not affected by the change in script done to the server. – With Perseus Echeminada

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