Comelec defers action on Marcos plea for audit

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Elections en banc has unanimously voted to defer action on the petition of the camp of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. for an audit of the Comelec transparency and central servers.

This, pending the canvass of votes for President and Vice President in Congress that officially begins today, as well as the resolution of criminal charges filed against Comelec and Smartmatic officials by ABAKADA party-list Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz Tuesday.

The Marcos camp believes some election return results were manipulated to favor Liberal Party candidate and vice-presidential frontrunner Leni Robredo.

Marcos camp files new set of criminal cases vs Smartmatic, Comelec

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the commission en banc is taking into consideration the effect of the results of the audit to the ongoing canvass and criminal case.

Bautista said the en banc is open to having a system audit conducted by non-partisan, independent IT practitioners, preferably from the Department of Science and Technology or members of the Technical Evaluation Committee.

Yesterday, Commissioner Rowena Guanzon told the media that the independent audit will also be part of an internal investigation of the poll body on the alleged "breach of protocol" committed by Smartmatic official Marlon Garcia.

The investigation will determine whether the action will have implications on the contract of Smartmatic to Comelec. It will also determine the administrative liability of several Comelec IT personnel.


Meanwhile, Bautista said he also wants to postpone the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections scheduled this October 2016.

The poll chief said primary considerations include election fatigue, as the 2016 national and local elections have just been concluded.

Barangay and SK elections, being manual, is labor intensive and will entail a lot of costs.

Then there is also the possibility that the Comelec will conduct a national plebiscite in the coming months because of the strong push for Charter change.

Bautista said Comelec will call for a National Strategic Planning Conference with election supervisors around the country wherein they plan to draft a revised Omnibus Election Code that will be more responsive to the times. One of the proposed revisions is to separate the conduct of national and local polls and then merge the barangay and SK elections to the local elections.