THE Commission on Elections has asked the Supreme Court to allow it to use its election management system in preparation for next year’s midterm elections.
The Comelec asked the high court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to exclude the EMS and its servers from the coverage of the precautionary protection order issued in July 2016 in connection with the election protest of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo.
The Comelec, through its legal department director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, appealed to the PET to allow it to use the EMS servers used in the May 2016 elections for the May 2019 elections to save on costs.
“The Government of the Republic of the Philippines, through the Comelec, had already spent a considerable amount of money,” the Comelec said. “In May 9, 2016 National and Local Elections, for the EMS alone, Comelec already spent the amount of P6,576,396.96 representing the total lease bid and purchase option prices.”
The EMS servers contain the election database including the Project of Precincts, Voting Jurisdictions, List of Candidates, among others. They also create the election configuration per precinct level, including the CCS, Vote Counting Machines, SD Cards and provide security configurations and digital certificates and private key certificate per VCM issued to the Board of Canvassers and Board of Election Inspectors.
The poll body said it plans to use the hardware of the EMS servers for next year’s elections, but will turn over the hard disk and storage device to the PET.
It said the EMS was necessary for poll preparations since it is the “core or brain” of the automated election system.
“The EMS Servers are part of the Automated Election System. They are indispensable because they complete the AES,” the Comelec said.
“They manage all the data and election configuration, hence are considered as the core or brain of the election configuration. Without the EMS, there will be no election configuration.”
The Comelec then presented two options in order to hand over the data to the PET to be used in the ongoing protest of Marcos.
“First Option: Have the data therein be backed-up and/or cloned in the presence of the representatives of the [PET] and the parties,” the Comelec said.
“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 Comelec said the PET, in the earlier election protest of former Interior and Local Government secretary Mar Roxas against former vice president Jejomar Binay, had granted that request of the Comelec to reuse the EMS server and the Consolidation and Canvassing System laptops used in the May 2013 and May 2010 elections.
The PET issued the PPO 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.”
The order 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, and voters registration records and the books of voters and the audit logs, transmission logs and all log files.