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Comelec official slams PNP’s inspection of voting machines in Baguio City

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By Leslie Ann Aquino

An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has questioned the inspection conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP) in one of their warehouses in Baguio City.

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon (PHOTO COURTESY OF ROWENA GUANZON / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon (PHOTO COURTESY OF ROWENA GUANZON / FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

In her Twitter account, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said no one is allowed to inspect their warehouses without permission.

“Even if they are directors of the PNP,” she added.

Asked if their election officer in Baguio requested the inspection, Guanzon said: “No.”

Days before, the poll official already took notice of a picture of Police/Brig. Gen. Israel Dickson inspecting the vote counting machine (VCM) and other election paraphernalia at the Comelec warehouse in Baguio City which was posted in social media on April 22.

“Why? Did the election officer request PNP,” said Guanzon that time.

On Monday, the lawyer of Otso Diretso Senate bet Chel Diokno asked the poll body to conduct an investigation on the matter.

“We urge the honorable Commission to immediately conduct an investigation, come out with a report and along with it, an assurance to the public that such breach will never happen again,” said Emilio Maranon III in the letter he submitted on behalf of Diokno.

“This incident is a clear breach of the Comelec warehouse’s security and, worse, by its own supposed guards. This should be taken very seriously by Comelec as this incident can cast doubt not only on its independence but on the very integrity of the upcoming polls,” it further read.

Maranon said the visit and access of non-Comelec personnel to what should have been a restricted facility raises a serious concern.

“It is very clear from Resolution No. 10097 that the authority of the PNP is limited to providing ‘perimeter security.’ This would mean that it is limited to securing built fortifications of the storage facility and to keep intruders out of it. It has no custody or responsibility over the VCMs, transmission equipment, and other election paraphernalia. Thus, General Dickson has no business inspecting or being inside the Comelec warehouse in Baguio City,” he said.

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