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PET to Comelec: Answer Robredo's queries on stripping activities

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to respond to the concerns raised by Vice President Leni Robredo on the stripping activities involving poll materials used in the 2016 elections.

Robredo filed a manifestation with the PET on April 7, listing down her concerns which the tribunal said the Comelec must answer within 10 days from receipt of notice.

The vice president asked why do the certificates in consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) USB tokens expire and whether the other data contained in CCS laptops would be affected in light of the proposed change in the system date.

She also asked how much is being spent by the Comelec on the rent of the warehouse and the timetable for the use of CCS laptops by the poll body.

Sought for comment, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said: "We will comply [with the PET resolution]."

According to the Comelec, the stripping activities entail the physical dismantling of the rented vote counting machines, the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) laptops and their respective components and other election paraphernalia that have to be turned over to poll technology provider Smartmatic.

The Comelec begun the stripping of unused CCS kits and backing up of SD cards on March 27 at the Comelec's warehouse in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna.

The poll body scheduled the stripping of the used CCS on March 31 but it was suspended since the certificates installed in the CCS USB tokens expired in December 2016.

The Comelec suggested to "change the system date to an earlier period, preferably October or November 2016."

The poll body is also doing a backing-up activity in order to collect the statistical data from the SD cards, such as, among others, the number of undervotes per position, the number of abstention per position, and the number of over-votes per position.

Robredo is fighting an electoral protest lodged by former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. whom she defeated by only 263,473 votes.

Marcos claimed last year's vice presidential election was marred by fraud.

Robredo and Marcos had earlier posted the initial installment of P44 million of the P81.46 million required of them by the PET for the protest and counter protest to move forward.

The fees will cover the retrieval of ballot boxes and election documents from contested precincts nationwide. —KBK, GMA News