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Bongbong camp to appeal junking of cybercrime raps vs. Comelec, Smartmatic personnel

The camp of defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos on Thursday criticized the decision of the Manila Prosecutor's Office clearing officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic of liability in the script change in the transparency server during the May polls.

The prosecutors found no sufficient evidence that Comelec and Smartmatic personnel conspired to deliberately tamper with the transparency server, which hosts the unofficial poll results that Marcos is questioning before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

"With the admissions coming from Comelec officials, including Chairman Andres Bautista himself, that no authority was given to change the script on the night of the elections, it would have been an easy decision for the Manila Prosecutors’ Office to make a finding of probable cause to charge the respondents with the violation of the Cybercrime Law," said lawyer Vic Rodriguez, a spokesman for Marcos.

Rodriguez said Marcos' campaign manager and former Abakada Rep. Jonathan De La Cruz, who filed the complaint, will appeal the decision before the Department of Justice. 

The lawyer also said Marcos found it "horrible" that the prosecutors ruled against the complaint despite the admission made by the Comelec IT personnel Rouie Peñalba of his lack of authority to allow any tweaking of the transparency server.

Marcos’ camp had wondered why his lead over Vice President Leni Robredo in the unofficial count began to erode following the introduction of a new script in the transparency server on the night of election day, May 9.

The Comelec admitted the script of the transparency server was tweaked, but only to correct the “?” character into “ñ” that appeared in the names of some candidates.

The poll body also maintained that the script change did not affect the results.

Unsatisfied with the Comelec's pronouncements, Dela Cruz asked the Manila Prosecutor's Office to charge certain Comelec and Smartmatic officials in court.

They are Smartmatic technical support team head Marlon Garcia, project director Elie Moreno and team members Neil Banigued and Mauricio Herrera, and Comelec employees Nelson Herrera, Frances Mae Gonzales and Peñalba.

It was Garcia who changed the script after he was informed by a media representative who was present at the transparency server room in Pope Pius Center in Manila about the incorrect spelling of certain candidates.

But Garcia's action, the resolution said, was "far from being criminal."

“On the assumption that said change in the script is criminal, Garcia’s corespondents can hardly be considered as his co-conspirators,” the resolution stated. —KBK, GMA News