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Comelec eyes probe on how QC mayoral bet got hold of CFC cards

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
First Posted 17:09:00 05/21/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Police

MANILA, Philippines-- (UPDATE) The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday it would tap the help of the Department of Justice and the Philippine National Police to investigate how some compact flash (CF) cards used in the May 10 elections got into the hands of Quezon City Representative Annie Rosa Susano.

On Friday?s continuation of the inquiry of the committee on electoral reforms and suffrage in the House of Representatives, Susano, who lost in the mayoralty race in Quezon City, showed the panel a CF card that she asked Smartmatic officials to verify.

Susano said she could have been denied of votes because of irregularities in the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

In an interview after the hearing, Susano said she is in possession of two CF cards and has more, but would not say where they came from or how she obtained them.

Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the poll body would consider seeking the help of the DoJ and the police on the matter.

?Maybe we will have it investigated by the PNP and the DoJ. That is the proper procedure,? Larrazabal told reporters after the hearing.

?First, we have to check if that is a legit CF card, second you have to check the protocol that is supposed to be followed in the handling and possession of the of the CF cards. What is important is that you determine how did that person got possession of the cards and if that was legally given to that individual,? he added.

Hilarious scene

The hearing turned up a hilarious scene courtesy of Susano.

In the process of presenting her case, she called Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal as Commissioner Lardizabal, the vehicle Isuzu Crosswind as Isuzu Crossword and referred to the compact flash (CF) cards as CFC, eliciting bursts of laughter from the audience.

?How safe are the CFCs? Why do you need back-ups for the CFCs?? she asked, and approaching Cesar Flores of Smartmatic Inc., the Comelec?s automation partner, Susano showed a CF card and asked Flores, ?Is this yours??

Flores said he could not attest what the contents of the CF card that Susano was holding until after they have examined it.

Susano said she is in possession of two CF cards, ?but more are coming.? But she would not say where she got it or how she obtained it.

?It?s secret,? she said when asked.

A witness

She added she has a witness, not a masked one, who will prove that manipulation of votes was done through the PCOC machines.

Susano, who placed third in the mayoralty race behind Vice Mayor Herbert Bautista and Mike Defensor, was aghast that she got only 6,000 votes in the city, saying the councilors got more votes than what she got.

Asked what the CF cards she is holding proves, she said, ?That anybody can have that, can manipulate it. Smartmatic said that is should be tamper-proof and that the results can?t be erased, that?s why I?m raising these questions.?

Giving the Smartmatic officials a parting shot, she said, ?You are not from here and yet you make a mockery of the elections.?

Susano also asked the committee to look into the PCOS machines and the software used during elections.

Cesar Flores, president for Southeast Asia of Smartmatic-TIM, refused to say whether the CF card presented to him by Susano during the hearing was authentic. He said he has also no way of knowing if it was a back-up card.

Flores maintained that CF cards should be inside the PCOS machines and should be returned to the warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna after use.

?It?s supposed to be inside the PCOS machine either in Cabuyao or on its way to Cabuyao, nobody else should be in possession of such a card and therefore my recommendation is either to surrender it to either Comelec or Congress for proper investigation,? Flores said.

He said back-up cards are important because they will serve to check the election returns and as a support to the main memory card.

Flores said Smartmatic is still in the process of making an inventory of all the CF cards used in the election and that this would take about two weeks.

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