‘3 whistle-blowers’ fail to derail proclamation
IN A LAST-MINUTE bid to delay the proclamation of the winners of the May 9 presidential election, three hooded witnesses came out on Monday to claim they took part in manipulating the balloting in vote-rich Quezon province on orders of an unnamed official of President Aquino’s Liberal Party (LP).
The witnesses said they rigged the votes to benefit LP standard-bearer Mar Roxas and his running mate Camarines Rep. Leni Robredo, the newly proclaimed Vice President-elect.
One of the witnesses also claimed he knew the operation was not limited to Quezon but was actually done nationwide.
The witnesses, all men who came to the Senate in hoodies and their faces covered, were brought by Pastor “Boy” Saycon Jr. of the Council for Philippine Affairs to meet with Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona III and Nancy Binay, who were all out at the time.
In an interview with reporters, Saycon said he wanted President-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Robredo to defer their proclamation by Congress.
He said Robredo was unaware of the cheating done in Quezon, adding she was not the type to be involved in such activity.
“Let’s open everything,” Saycon said of the ballots in Quezon.
He said the witnesses came to him for “sanctuary” as they feared for their lives. Two of the three witnesses were members of Iglesia ni Cristo (INC).
Saycon said the witnesses were involved in accepting the votes from clustered precincts and reconfiguring the results with secured digital (SD) cards that had preentered votes of favored candidates which were transmitted by Smartmatic to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) transparency servers.
Saycon said his group was preparing the affidavits of the witnesses.
Only one of the three witnesses spoke to the media.
“We decided to come out because we witnessed the cheating and were used to do it,” said a witness who claimed to be an INC member. He said he was the logistics supervisor while the two others were an encoder and a programmer.
The witness said they were hired by a top LP official whom they would identify later in affidavits.
He said they were trained to handle the computer count and it was only on May 9 that they found out the role they would play in manipulating the votes.
Explaining how it happened, the witness said they were posted in a privately owned building where they were assigned tasks to “get votes from the other candidates.”
They transmitted votes from municipalities to others on the second floor and third floor which have Smartmatic machines which then were sent to the Comelec transparency servers.
“We manipulated the votes transmitted to us by the municipality by putting in numbers,” he said.
He said Smartmatic representatives supervised them in their work. He said they also manipulated the votes of some senators.
He said Roxas got more than 400,000 votes while Robredo, 300,000 votes.
“The additional votes for Robredo were taken from other vice presidential candidates,” the witnesses said. The votes for Robredo’s main rival, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., were shaved and he lost over 200,000 votes.
The senatorial candidate whom he alleged benefited most in the cheating was Senate President Franklin Drilon while other LP senatorial candidates got “additional” votes too.
The Comelec on Monday said it would help look into allegations of vote manipulation in Quezon as long as the supposed witnesses provided sufficient evidence.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia told reporters that the random manual audit (RMA) being conducted in 715 clustered precincts nationwide so far showed that the vote-counting machines registered an overall accuracy of 99.74 percent.
“We are prepared to report the RMA as we see them … and based on what we are seeing, so far it appears to be acceptable,” Guia said.
He added that the final RMA report would be out by mid-June.
In Lucena City, Mayor Roderick Alcala of the LP called the allegations “malicious and baseless.”
He said two of his candidates for councilor lost. “We won some and lost some, fair and square,” Alcala said. With reports from Jocelyn R. Uy and Delfin T. Mallari Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon
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