Comelec denies 'hidden' VCMs at hotel, leads inspection

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Commission on Elections has denied reports there are vote counting machines (VCMs) hidden at a hotel in Cubao, Quezon City, as it led inspections at the area on Monday.

Comelec chairman Andres Bautista personally went to Novotel to conduct an inspection with his team. Several floors of the hotel have so far been inspected but no VCMs were seen.

''Wala kaming nakitang mga VCMs sa mga kwarto. Hindi lang kwarto ng mga Smartmatic kundi pati mga katabing kwarto,'' Bautista said.

He however confirmed that Smartmatic technicians checked in at Novotel.

The Comelec chief meanwhile urged the public not to spread rumors, especially if there is no evidence.

''Ang panawagan ko na lang din, sana huwag basta bastang magbibigay ng mga balita na walang pruweba o ebidensya. Makikita niyo ang daming oras na nasayang," said Bautista.

FEARS OF FRAUD

PDP Laban lawyer, Charlie Ho said their party is alarmed over the reports that VCMs are kept in Novotel Cubao, and will ask Comelec to produce CCTV videos from the hotel.

The hotel that supposedly houses hidden VCMs is located at Araneta Center, which is owned by the family of presidential candidate Manuel "Mar" Roxas.

Administration coalition spokesperson Ibarra “Barry” Gutierrez III, however slammed PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa for claiming that VCMs were hidden at the hotel, branding it as a ''mere rumor, completely bereft of basis and substance."

''There is absolutely no truth to the rumor that there are VCMs in Novotel. First of all, the COMELEC has fully accounted for all VCMs, each of which has a unique ID that allows the COMELEC to know where it is. This means it is impossible for anyone to misplace these machines,'' Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said De Villa must apologize if the PPCRV's claim will be proven false.

''Like all Filipinos, we support honest and credible elections. Spreading baseless and unsubstantiated rumors is not only irresponsible, but also illegal as it undermines the credibility of the electoral process,'' Gutierrez said. -- With reports from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News.

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