By Rey Panaligan
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has asked the Supreme Court (SC) to allow the use in the preparation for the 2019 elections of its election management system (EMS) and its servers which are covered by the precautionary protection order (PPO) in the contested 2016 vice presidential election.
In a pleading filed with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), composed of all SC justices, the Comelec said the EMS and its servers are very necessary in preparation for the 2019 elections since they are the “core or brain” of the automated system.
“The EMS Servers are part of the Automated Election System (AES). They are indispensable because they complete the AES. They manage all the data and election configuration, hence, considered as the core or brain of the election configuration. Without the EMS, there will be no election configuration,” it said.
At the same time, the Comelec pointed out that the use of the EMS and its servers deployed during the 2016 elections would save money for the government.
In July 2016, the PET issued a PPO in connection with the protest filed by former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
The PPO was issued “to preserve and safeguard the integrity of all the ballot boxes and their contents, including the ballots, voter’s receipts and election returns covered by the protest.”
It covered ballot boxes and their contents, including the ballots, voter’s receipts and election returns, the lists of voters, particularly the Election Day Computerized Voter’s List (EDCVL), and voters’ registration records (VRRs), and the books of voters and the audit logs, transmission logs, and all log files.
Since April 2, the PET has been conducting a manual recount and revision of ballots in three provinces covered by the protest.
In its pleading, the Comelec told the SC that the government “… had already spent a considerable amount of money…”and “… for the EMS alone, Comelec already spent the amount of P6,576,396.96 representing the total lease bid and purchase option prices.”
The Comelec said the EMS servers contain the election database including the Project of Precincts, Voting Jurisdictions and List of Candidates.
It said the EMS servers create the election configuration per precinct and provide security configurations and digital certificates and private key certificate per vote-counting machine (VCM) issued to the Board of Canvassers and Board of Election Inspectors.
In its pleading, the Comelec said it plans to use the hardware of the EMS servers for the 2019 elections, but will turn over the hard disk and storage device to the PET.
The Comelec presented two options in the turnover of data to the PET for use in the ongoing 2016 vice presidential protest. These are:
· “First Option: Have the data therein be backed-up and/or cloned in the presence of the representatives of the (PET) and the parties.
· “Second Option: Remove the hard drive also in the presence of the representatives of the (PET) and the parties and turn over the same to the PET.”
The SC starts on Wednesday its decision-writing month until the end of May.
Even during the period, the SC is not precluded from holding special sessions to deliberate on important issues.