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Comelec shrugs off cheating story

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Comelec Chair Andres Bautista INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

FOR COMMISSION on Elections Chair Andres Bautista, the claim of vote manipulation in Quezon province was unbelievable as the Automated Election System had many safeguards against fraud.

Bautista also questioned the timing of the charges—three weeks after the May 9 elections and on the day the winners of the presidential and vice presidential races were to be proclaimed by Congress.

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“What immediately entered my mind was they were too late the hero. If they really had evidence of fraud, why did they come out only now?” Bautista in a dzMM radio interview.

He said the claims of the three “whistle-blowers” were “hard to believe” given the checks and balances the Comelec had instituted to ensure an honest and credible election.

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Among these were the Comelec website that allowed the public to view “near real time” the election returns transmitted by the 92,509 clustered precincts nationwide, and the receipts issued by the vote counting machines that allowed voters to double check their ballots, he said.

“There were many checks and balances, several safeguards. That’s why I cannot believe these kinds of accusations,” Bautista said.

Pastor “Boy” Saycon Jr. of the Council for Philippine Affairs had brought the supposed witnesses, their faces covered, to the Senate on Monday before the proclamation by Congress of the election winners—Rodrigo Duterte for President and Leni Robredo for Vice President.

Saycon had hoped they would be able to tell their story to Senators Sergio Osmeña III, Teofisto Guingona II and Nancy Binay. But the three senators were not around so one of the three witnesses spoke to the media instead.

The witness claimed they manipulated the vote count in Quezon on orders of an unnamed Liberal Party (LP) official. He said they rigged the votes to benefit administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas and his running mate Robredo.

They also alleged that Senate President Franklin Drilon, the LP vice chair, benefited from the cheating. Drilon topped the senatorial race.

On Tuesday, Drilon told reporters he did not want to waste time on the allegations.

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Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, chair of the committee on electoral reforms and the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System, said he would rather that the allegations of vote count manipulation made by three supposed witnesses be investigated by the Comelec.

Pimentel  said there was no time for the Senate to investigate the allegations as the 16th Congress was closing next week.

But Pimentel said he found the witnesses’ story implausible.

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TAGS: Comelec, in Quezon province, Nation, news, poll fraud
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