MANILA, Philippines – Otso Diretso senatorial candidate Chel Diokno urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate an incident on April 22 where Baguio police officials inspected a warehouse of vote-counting machines (VCMs) in the city.
Diokno sent a letter to the Comelec on Monday, April 29, saying that the police inspection is a “clear breach of the Comelec’s warehouse’s security.”
“This should be taken very seriously by Comelec as this incident can cast doubt not only on its independence, but on the very integrity of the upcoming polls,” said Diokno through his lawyer Emil Marañon III.*
Diokno cited Comelec Resolution No. 10097, which lays out the guidelines for the custody and responsibility of voting equipment, ballots, and other election paraphernalia.
Under Section 2 of the resolution, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) shall “provide perimeter security to all warehouse/hubs and sub-hubs.” (READ: Voting machines to service more voters in 2019 polls)
“It is very clear from Resolution No. 10097 that the authority of the PNP is limited to providing perimeter security. It has no custody of responsibility over the VCMs, transmission of equipment, and other election paraphernalia,” Diokno said.
Manila Bulletin reported on April 22 that Cordillera Police Director Police Brigadier General Israel Dickson inspected the Baguio warehouse of VCMs.
"Nababahala kami kasi ang dapat na tungkulin ng PNP ay magbigay ng security. Wala naman silang alam at kakayahan sa mga makina na 'yan eh. Bakit naman nila pinapakialaman ang mga bagay na ito?” Diokno said on Monday.
(We are worried because the task of the PNP is to provide security. They do not have the knowledge nor the expertise on these machines. Why are they meddling with these things?)
Veteran election lawyer-turned-Otso Diretso senatorial bet Romy Macalintal said the police inspection was “worrisome.”
“Kailan pa ba nagkaroon ng authority ang PNP na mag-inspect ng vote-counting machines? Hindi porke't sila ay mga police inspectors ay puwede na sila mag-inspect ng vote-counting machines. It is not part of their being police,” Macalintal said.
(When did the PNP ever get the authority to inspect vote-counting machines? If they are police inspectors, it doesn’t mean they can also inspect vote-counting machines. It is not part of their being police.) – with a report from Mara Cepeda/Rappler.com