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Chiz: Witness to prove 2016 poll disparities

Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero on Thursday said he had records showing that many of the backup SD (secure digital) memory cards used in the 2016 elections were not a “mirror image” of the original memory cards.

Escudero said he would present a witness, a former official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), in three weeks to confirm his claim.

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“I have records to show that the backup is not a mirror image of the main SD,” he said during a hearing of the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system.

“We don’t even know which ones were used as backup and which ones were used in the main (memory cards). How can we expect it to be accurate down to the last vote?” the senator asked Comelec officials, led by Robert Lim, acting chair.

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Transmitted votes Escudero made his claim while asking Comelec officials how many backup memory cards were used in the 2016 elections, and if the commission could distinguish whether the votes transmitted had come from the backup or the main memory cards.

The senator said a former Comelec official had approached him a few months ago, when he was not yet chair of the joint committee, and offered to provide evidence that would show discrepancies between the backup and the original memory cards of the vote-counting machines.

He said the official gave him photocopies and that he had presumed that the latter had authentic documents with him.

“We got hold of printouts but it would be better if the witness would say that the backup drive was not the mirror image of the main drive,” Escudero said.

If the original and backup memory cards did not match, the election results could be affected to a certain degree, he said, “although we still cannot say up to what extent.”

Carbon copy Escudero added: “It’s a basic technical issue that should not be present [at all] because the original and backup drives should mirror each other, like the carbon copy of a document.”

Asked what he thought of Escudero’s disclosure, Lim said the poll body had not seen the possibility of backup drives not matching the SD memory cards. The Comelec “is confident in our system,” he added.

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“We’re interested in what Senator Chiz would show us,” Lim said.

During the hearing, Escudero rebuffed the bid of Glenn Chong, lawyer of former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to use the committee to get access to ballot images in Camarines Sur, which the Marcos camp earlier claimed had questionable marks on them.

Marcos, who lost to Vice President Leni Robredo, had filed a case before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal disputing the election results.

“As a word of warning, we will not allow this committee to be used by any of the parties with an ongoing protest right now—whether it be Senator Marcos, Vice President Robredo, Sen. Leila de Lima or Secretary (Francis) Tolentino, or any local official for that matter,” Escudero said.

“Wittingly or unwittingly, the committee will not allow itself to be used by an interested party with a pending case,” he added.

Actual ballot

Escudero, however, asked the Comelec to provide the committee a sample of a ballot not covered by a protest case.

Lim said the Comelec could only submit a digital image of the ballot since the actual ballots had been submitted to the National Treasury.

Told that the treasury was under the Department of Finance and that the Comelec could ask the latter about it, Lim said he would look into the request.

The senator asked the Comelec to get the data in three weeks’ time so that the backup and original SD could be compared.  —WITH A REPORT FROM MAILA AGER

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TAGS: Elections, Escudero, Senate
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