ASIDE from administration standard bearer Manuel Roxas II and his running mate Leni Robredo, Senator-elect Franklin Drilon was the biggest beneficiary of vote manipulation orchestrated by the Liberal Party in the May 9 elections, three whistleblowers from Quezon province said Monday.
Concealing their faces behind scarves and sunglasses, the three witnesses told a press conference at the Senate that they participated directly in the rigging of election results upon the order of a top LP official, whom they declined to name.
At the start of the press conference, a man who described himself as a logistic supervisor, said they faced the media and sought the help of Council on Philippine Affairs (Copa) secretary-general Pastor Saycon to expose the whole truth.
He also said they wanted to reveal all the circumstances around the manipulation and cheating that occurred in the counting of votes.
Saycon, who earlier questioned the Comelec’s refusal to conduct a manual audit of votes, joined the witnesses during a press conference at the Senate.
He underscored the need to look into the votes from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
He also said they have testimony to back up their assertions that there was vote buying and disenfranchisement of voters in the May 9 election.
“We decided to show up because we witnessed and were used in this incident [poll cheating],” said the 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.
He said the fraud affected the votes in Quezon province, which has over 1 million registered voters.
“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.
Since he is not an information technology (IT) expert, the witness said he and his companions were taught how to manipulate the results. His other accomplices, he said, were the ones who encoded the results transmitted from the municipalities.
He insisted they were not aware they would have a role in the cheating until Election Day. He said they initially thought their training for 10 days to two weeks were just given so that they would be knowledgeable about the computers being used.
When reporters inquired on who had ordered them to manipulate the votes, the logistics officer replied in Filipino: “A high-ranking official of the government…..in particular—from the LP.” He refused again to identify the official, however.
When asked which candidates benefitted most from the manipulation, the witness said the votes were added to Roxas and Robredo.
He said Robredo’s closest rival, outgoing Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., had lost about 200,000 votes in (Quezon) province alone while Robredo allegedly received additional 300,000 votes.
He said at least 300,000 votes taken from other vice presidential candidates were added to the tally for Robredo.
The witnesses also said most of the shaved votes came from winning presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte.
Some 400,000 of these votes, they added, went to Roxas instead.
The witness said there was vote manipulation in the senatorial race as well, but declined to name those that benefitted, except for Dilon.
“It’s difficult to name names because there were many candidates,” the logistics supervisor said.
Saycon said they are still preparing the affidavits of the witnesses who belong to the Iglesia Ni Cristo, but were given clearance by the religious group to speak out.
He said they still will not bring the matter to the Comelec, which would only cover it up.
The two other witnesses did not speak in the press conference. Saycon said the three witnesses were scheduled to meet Senators Teofisto Guingona III, Sergio Osmeña III, Vicente Sotto III and Nancy Binay to expose the cheating.
Robredo on Monday refused to answer allegations that she benefitted from the cheating, and asked her lawyer instead to respond.
Robredo, who won over Marcos by 263,000, held a press conference shortly after her proclamation in Congress but answered questions related only to what she plans to do as vice president.
At the press conference, the question of cheating was the only one she refused to answer.
Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal described the allegations of fraud as a “figment of the imagination.”
“It is impossible for Smartmatic or the Comelec to allow other people they don’t trust to witness their illegal acts if indeed cheating was done,” he said.
Macalintal, an election lawyer, challenged Marcos to present as evidence—even a single election return that would not match the result that reflected in the Certificate of Canvass.
He also said it would take a long time for an electoral protest to prosper.
“Senator Marcos would probably spend some P100 million for the electoral protest and it would be deemed moot and academic by the time the next election comes in three years and he runs for senator again just like in the case of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago when she filed an electoral protest against her rival for President Fidel V. Ramos. The case did not push through and was deemed moot and academic because Senator Miriam ran for the Senate,” Macalintal said.
Macalintal also said it would have been impossible for the whistleblower to claim that some 200,000 votes had been shaved from the votes obtained by Marcos and added to Robredo’s votes.
“How is that possible that hundreds of thousands of votes were shaved from other candidates when the total surpassed the number of votes cast. It is simply impossible,” Macalintal said.
The Marcos camp said Monday it hoped the Comelec and a Manila prosecutor’s office would decide favorably on the case they filed against Comelec employees and Smartmatic officials headed by project director Marlon Garcia, for violation of the Automation Election Law.
Marcos’ campaign adviser, Jonathan dela Cruz of Abakada party-list, said Garcia and his cohorts in the Smartmatic and concerned employees of the poll body have committed “illegal acts” for their “unauthorized change” in the script of the transparency server of the Comelec.
Earlier, the Marcos camp, through lawyer Jose Amor Amorado, filed cases, respectively, with the Comelec for violation of the automation law; and Manila City Prosecutors Office for violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2010 against Smartmatic executives Marlon Garcia and Elie Moreno, project director Neil Banigued, and Mauricio Herrera, a member of the technical support team.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia on Monday said the poll body welcomed any complaints and randomly audits such irregularities.
In a forum, Guia, however, said the Random Manual Audit team is ready to physically and manually audit some provinces with vote discrepancies.
“Everyone is welcome and we are ready to study further [such] complaints,” Guia said.
National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) alternate chairperson Tammy Lipana said that based on the ongoing RMA process, there were no indications of vote shaving and vote padding.
From the 315 or 49.37 percent of the total 715 clustered precincts that they have so far audited, it appeared that the more than 92,000 machines accurately counted the votes.
“Based on our verification process, so far, generally the count of the machines is fairly accurate,” Lipana said. – With Maricel V. Cruz