Unnoticed report backs fabricated fraud case
BAGUIO CITY—A little-known report from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) suggested that some ballots cast in Baguio City during the 2013 midterm elections may have vanished, adding fuel to charges made by its former chair, Sixto Brillantes Jr., that these were used to fabricate evidence of poll automation fraud.
The Feb. 2 report of Comelec’s Baguio office was addressed in three counter-affidavits filed this month by city treasurer Alicia Onoza, former Baguio Rep. Bernardo Vergara and his former aide Ferdinand Balanag, who denied stealing and tampering with election materials.
The Comelec law department is investigating them for poll violations due to Brillantes’ complaints in March. Onoza was implicated because she is the deputized custodian of the ballots.
Brillantes accused the three Baguio residents, former Tarlac Gov. Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco and former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong of faking evidence, using stolen ballots, to discredit the Comelec’s automated election program.
He cited the testimony of whistle-blower Worthy Acosta that he was tasked in June 2013 to steal the ballots, with the help of Vergara, a losing congressional candidate, and Balanag.
The ballots, Acosta said, were later altered and incorporated in a PowerPoint presentation and several materials about alleged anomalies in the 2013 elections.
These materials were presented or distributed during a post-election forum in a university here in August 2013.
Brillantes’ complaint also cited the Baguio inventory report prepared by Baguio election officer John Paul Martin, who said he found ballot boxes that were improperly sealed or damaged when he inspected a city property building where the 2013 election materials had been stored.
Instead of conducting a full inventory, Martin said he picked out five sample boxes, including one from which Acosta supposedly smuggled out ballots used to fake evidence.
Two of the five ballot boxes were lighter after being weighed, Martin said.
“It may be inferred that election documents (including the official ballots) were missing” from some of the boxes, Martin said, which could be attributed to neglect at the end of the elections or to the unsealing of the box.
In her April 13 counter-affidavit, Onoza said no record showed any stranger being allowed to enter the building. She said all speculation and innuendo about her supposed part in a conspiracy was the result of a “fishing expedition.”
“It is a remarkable coincidence,” Onoza said in the document. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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