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Brillantes: Some CF cards seem to have been tampered with

Some compact flash (CF) cards used in the recently concluded elections had been deliberately destroyed and tampered with presumably to delay transmission of results, poll chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. admitted Tuesday.

"Kung ako ayaw ko lumabas 'yung results ng isang PCOS [machine], sisirain ko 'yung CF card para walang mai-transmit," Brillantes said.

The CF cards store the election data from the vote-counting Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

Brillantes, who is under fire from poll watchdogs over the supposedly problematic conduct of the May 13 elections, said they found some CF cards that were dipped in water or ink as well as CF cards that were scratched.

"Mayroon din naman mga sinira o nasira ng mga tao, sinasawsaw sa tubig, nilulublub sa tinta, scratches," he said, although he did not state figures, saying he has yet to receive an official report.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had earlier blamed defective CF cards for the slow transmission of election returns from PCOS machines, which was one of the complaints of accredited citizens' arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

"Tama 'yan," Brillantes said Tuesday when asked if the defective CF cards caused the delay. "Kaya meron tayong contingency na kapag sira , pwedeng i-deliver ang CF card at i-deliver ang hard copy."

"Deliberately corrupted"?

Brillantes said he thinks some CF cards, supplied by PCOS supplier Smartmatic Asia, were either naturally defective or tampered with.

"Wala pa ako natatanggap na official report, pero palagay ko meron... Kasi mayroon ngang mga CF cards na sira, hindi ko alam kung naturally corrupt or deliberately corrupted," he said.

For his part, Smartmatic president Cesar Flores told GMA News Online that only 100 to 200 clustered precincts, or barely 0.2 percent of total precincts, reported CF card issues.

"That is not reason for slow transmission," Flores said in a text message.

He said PCOS machines will not accept tampered CF cards. "It there are indeed tampered cards, the PCOS will reject them. Therefore, Comelec has to prepare and ship a replacement card."

"This can delay the counting, of course ... by one or two days," Flores added.

Poll offense

Brillantes said tampering with CF cards is equivalent to an election offense. "Kung sinira mo ang CF cards, that is actually destroying an election paraphernalia. It is very, very significant and important," he said.

According to Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Elections Sytems Act, a person convicted of tampering the automated system's electronic devices or their components will be penalized with an eight-year imprisonment and at the most 12 years without possibility of parole.

Those convicted will also be penalized with perpetual disqualification to hold public office or any non-elective public office, and deprivation of right to suffrage.  — KBK, GMA News