Bautista questions poll fraud raps
COMMISSION on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday questioned the timing of three whistleblowers who claimed they participated in vote manipulating and cheating during the May 9 elections.
“The first thing that came into my mind was, too late the hero,” Bautista said in an interview with radio dzMM, noting that their revelations came three weeks after the elections.
Bautista questioned that why they come out just only now when it is more than three weeks after the May 9 elections.
“Why only now? If there was really evidence and proof of cheating, why expose it just now?” he said in Filipino. “We are already on the last week of May. If there was actual cheating, they should have exposed that right away.”
Bautista was referring to three whistleblowers who held a press conference at the Senate, their faces hidden, to announce that they participated directly in the rigging of election results in Quezon province, which has over one million registered voters.
“We decided to show up because we witnessed and were used in this incident [poll cheating],” said one whistle blower who said he was a logistic supervisor.
He said the manipulation of votes was done in a privately owned building where computers and counting machines were used. He said Smartmatic personnel were also there to help in the operations.
“The counted votes from the municipalities were transmitted to us so we could manipulate the numbers and put them in their favored candidates. After receiving the votes, we transmitted them to our accomplices on the second and third floors who control the Smartmatic machines which transmit votes to corresponding servers. They manipulated the numbers and put them in favored candidates,” the logistic supervisor said.
Bautista said the Comelec was open to examining any evidence or proof, but said that since the first automated election in 2010, no allegations of cheating have ever been proved.
On Monday, Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia said the poll body will welcome any complaints and is willing to audit reported irregularities, as long as there is a basis for such reports.
The opposition United Nationalist Alliance of Vice President Jejomar Binay on Tuesday said persons involved in manipulating the elections must be punished, even if they belong to a losing party.
In a statement, UNA spokesperson Mon Ilagan said that UNA was deeply disturbed by the revelations of electronic poll tampering made last Monday at the Senate.
“If we are to bolster faith in democracy and elections, election cheats must be punished even if they belong to the losing party,” Ilagan said.
At the Senate on Monday, three IT experts claimed to have manipulated the results of the automated elections to favor the candidates of the Liberal Party.
One of the whistleblowers claimed that in Quezon province alone, at least 400,000 votes were added to Roxas.
“What’s unraveling are incidents of tampering with the people’s mandate by a political party hell bent on keeping power at all costs. These incidents must be exposed, investigated fully by the proper authorities and charges filed against the perpetrators,” Ilagan said.
“While it did not affect the votes for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, it has an undeniable impact on the actual rankings and the actual votes for the other presidential candidates. And it clearly undermines the people’s faith in elections and the democratic process,” Ilagan said.
A lawyer for the administration’s winning vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, on the other hand, questioned the figures cited by the whistle blowers, saying their claims were higher than the actual number of people who voted.
Also on Tuesday, the Supreme Court denied the petition filed by losing senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino to stop the proclamation of winners in the 10th to 12th slots in the senatorial race last month.
During its en banc session, the SC also junked the appeal of Tolentino to compel Comelec to conduct a forensic audit of the Automated Election System.
Court spokesman Theodore Te said the magistrates junked Tolentino’s petition as being moot and academic, since the Comelec had already proclaimed all 12 winning senatorial candidates.
The Court also dismissed as moot the petition filed by the son of former Laguna governor Emilio Ramon Ejercito assailing the Comelec’s refusal to exclude his name in the official ballot for the Laguan gubernatorial race despite his earlier withdrawal. With Vito Barcelo and Rey E. Requejo