Tolentino to SC: Stop proclamation of 10th-12th senatorial winners

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Tolentino to SC: Stop proclamation of 10th-12th senatorial winners 1
Senatorial candidate, former MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino on Wednesday formally asked the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from proclaiming the winners in the 10th to 12th slots in the recently concluded senatorial elections.

In a 10-page petition, Tolentino alleged that the May 9 election was compromised with automated election system (AES) provider Smartmatic's "unauthorized" alteration of the script at the Comelec transparency server situated at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila in the evening of election day.

Smartmatic had admitted to changing the script, which subsequently changed the hash code of the system, when it was found that the letter "ñ" in candidates with the letter in their name was represented by a "?" This alteration was a breach in protocol, according to the poll body, since it did not have the proper authorization from the Comelec en banc.

Tolentino urged the high court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to halt Thursday afternoon's scheduled proclamation of all the senatorial winners. 

NBOC eyes proclamation of senatorial, party-list winners on Thursday

"Petitioner asks the highest court of the land to stop the [Comelec] from proclaiming the winners of the last three slots for senators in the May 9, 2016 elections on grounds that the electoral process has been compromised and that the results the proclamation of which is sought to be stopped do not reflect the true will of the electorate. 

"In allowing a foreign national (Marlon Garcia, said to be the Project Manager of Smartmatic) to breach protocol and manipulate the automated election system without authority from the [Comelec] En Banc, the Comelec reneged on its constitutional duty and obligation to oversee the conduct of clean, honest and credible elections," the petition read.

Tolentino urged the high court to order the Comelec "to open the AES to forensic audit and investigation to determine the nature, extent, effect and consequences of the unauthorized manipulation of the system made by Smartmatic's Marlon Garcia, as well as provide petitioner and public information on the nature, extent, effect and consequences of said unauthorized manipulation."

He also called on the SC to order the Comelec to ensure that adequate measures are in place to prevent a similar incident from happening again.

To bolster his position, Tolentino cited the case of vice-presidential rivals Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., where Marcos, "who by a million votes was leading [Robredo], his closest rival for vice-president, lost his lead" after the script alteration.

Tolentino places 13th in the current canvass of the senatorial votes, trailing behind former Justice Secretary and Liberal Party senatorial candidate Leila de Lima who leads him by over one million votes.