Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ex-generals: Fabricated documents product of ‘Mercury Rising’

Bantay Boto special operatives should “physically isolate” known fraud operators before damage is done. I think warning is not enough. Specific action is must during critical times. There’s no rule of law in the Philippines. The Gloria Arroyo government is based on de facto on Mafia structures. It‘s riddled with corruption from grassroots level up to Malacanang Palace. Government contracts and privatization measures are manipulated in favor of cronies and close political allies. Crooks are being protected and promoted to key government post. The criminal justice system is rotten and the collapse of law enforcement. The illegitimate Arroyo government failed to deliver justice to its people and contributes to the widespread human rights violations in the country. Political killings, torture, disappearance, abduction, illegal arrest and intimidation are shades of Mafia gangland perpetuated by rogue cops and mercenary soldiers. The latest incident, a schoolhouse in Taysan, Batangas was deliberately razed by protector of the people (cops) leaving two teachers on election duty burned alive.


Ex-generals: Fabricated documents product of ‘Mercury Rising’

GMA’s Garcis padding TU votes by 1M in 5 Mindanao provinces

By Sherwin C. Olaes

Daily Tribune 05/21/2007

An election watchdog composed of retired military and police officers and generals yesterday warned the public that the Arroyo administration is set to come up with pre-computed and pre-accomplished statements of votes (SoVs) and certificates of canvas (CoCs) at the municipal and provincial levels, where alleged dagdag-bawas (vote padding-vote shaving) enabled President Arroyo’s Team Unity (TU) senatorial candidates to post what the group described as a “dubious” one-million lead against their rivals from the Genuine Opposition (GO) in five provinces in the country’s southern Mindanao region.

In a statement released to the Tribune, retired Navy Commodore Ismael Aparri, a convenor of Bantay Boto, charged that the release of “accomplishments” by the Chief Executive’s operators was a fulfillment of “Operation Plan (Oplan) Mercury Rising,” the orchestrated cheating operations of Malacañang that may ensure victory for administration senatorial and congressional candidates against the GO camp of detained President Joseph Estrada.

Aparri identified the five Mindanao provinces as Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sharif Kabunsuan, Sultan Kudarat and Surigao del Sur, where, according to him, the results of the May 14 mid-term vote are being”doctored” by the President’s “poll fraud operators.”?

“From the fraudulent pattern, we can see immediately the devilish intent of Mrs. Arroyo’s fraud operators. The 2007 registered voters from the Oplan Mercury Rising provinces were from eight to 20 percent higher than 2004; the voter turnout was much more than the 2004 voting turnout; the votes garnered by the administration candidates in the provinces were consistently 50 to 100 percent higher than those from the Genuine Opposition,” the Bantay Boto convenor said.

Aparri stressed in these five provinces alone, the lead of the TU senatorial bets over their GO rivals is almost one million.

“Bantay Boto is appealing to the fraud operators not to push through with this plan. Do not do it. It is not worth it. We’re also serving this notice to the fraud operators and their accomplices. We know you. Our eyes and ears are tuned to you. Perpetrators will be dealt with accordingly,” he said.

Aparri said the pre-computed and pre-accomplished SoVs and CoC, a product of the Malacanang-initiated cheating operations, will show an unusual increase in the 2007 registered voters compared to 2004, from eight percent to 20 percent in these areas.

“Just compare these percentages to the population average growth of 2.5 percent annually,” he added.

The retired commodore also charged the declaration of “failure of elections”?in some areas in Mindanao was plotted by the administration so the holding of special elections there can be justified.

Aparri said the original Oplan Mercury Rising was intended by Malacanang to offset the opposition leads that are expected from Metro Manila and the country’s main island of Luzon.

“The idea is to push the senatorial bids of (TU senatorial bets) Rep. (Juan Miguel) Zubiri, (former presidential chief of staff Michael) Defensor and (Rep. Prospero) Pichay, among others, into the winning circle. Even if they will land in the last slots, the magic number to add is at least two million votes in Oplan Mercury Rising provinces, roughly an average of 100,000-vote lead in about 20 provinces,”? he added.

According to Aparri, reports indicate that these leads are already pre-computed and being written in the SoVs and CoC.

“These (figures) will be released on a staggered sequence next week from the Oplan Mercury Rising provinces to the Comelec (Commission on Elections) for senatorial canvassing. Note that the same pattern in the 2004 elections where (the leads of opposition standard-bearer and movie icon) Fernando Poe Jr. in Luzon and Metro Manila were wiped out when the votes from Bohol, Cebu and Iloilo were canvassed, and the final GMA (Mrs. Arroyo’s initials) lead of one million was completed when the votes from special elections and the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) provinces were finally submitted, as the last provinces to be canvassed,” Aparri said.

A ranking Comelec official who gained notoriety during the alleged massive cheating in the 2004 presidential elections has been identified as one of the “Garci boys” apparently involved in the Mindanao fraud in the May 14-mid-term vote.

Rey Sumalipao, Comelec regional election supervisor for ARMM, has been pinpointed by an election officer in Lanao del Sur as the one who allegedly ordered the indefinite suspension of canvassing of election returns (ERs) in the senatorial race.

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel Jr. also yesterday called for the relief of Sumalipao from his post.

“Undue delays” in the canvassing of votes is the latest alleged tack being employed in the cheating operations as opposition leaders also yesterday noted reports of almost “simultaneous” incidents where election officials leave their posts while others could not explain the suspension of canvassing.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a reelectionist running under the GO banner, cited reports on the “unnecessary delays,” this time in Quezon City (Metro Manila), San Jose del Monte in Bulacan province, four towns in Sultan Kudarat province, including Isulan town.

Lacson said similar unnecessary delays have also been reported in Albay province and its capital Legazpi City in the Bicol Region.

He noted that in the four towns in Sultan Kudarat, election officers had abandoned their posts.

“It is possible that plans are afoot and the election officers are playing along,” Lacson said.

He urged poll watchdogs to make a test case of alleged cheating in Maguindanao province, where a teacher had come forward to spill the beans.

The teacher, during an interview on radio last Saturday, claimed that teachers were made to fill in blanks in ballots for TU senatorial candidates and that schoolchildren were made to print thumb marks on the ballots.

“We should see someone jailed for this. If a handwriting expert confirms that only two to three filled in the blanks in the ballots in the area, we’ll have an open-and-shut case,” Lacson said.

He also urged his fellow GO candidates to instruct their staff in keeping close watch on the areas he had mentioned, including some parts of Metro Manila.

Lacson said the GO is monitoring the race to the 10th to 12th slots, where cheating may alter the results.

In a so-called election hot spot, Muntinlupa City (Metro Manila), where incumbent Rep. Ruffy Biazon is being challenged by former television executive and lawyer Ricardo “Dong” Puno in the congressional contest, three members of the board of canvassers had been “hospitalized,” causing the suspension of the counting.

“This is the first time that three canvassers are hospitalized at the same time. What’s next?” Biazon asked.

Pimentel asked Sumalipao to explain on the undue delay in the canvassing of senatorial ERs in Lanao del Sur, an ARMM province.

Sumalipao, at the height of the congressional probe on the “Hello Garci” tapes, was identified by some witnesses as the one mentioned in the wiretapped conversations supposedly receiving instructions from former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, the alleged poll operator for the administration in the 2004 polls.

“Garci” has since been attached to Garcillano’s name.

As revealed by the Lanao del Sur election officer during the television interview, Sumalipao allegedly gave the order to indefinitely suspend the canvassing of the senatorial ERs after the canvassing of the ERs for the congressional and local-government races in various municipalities of the province.

Such order, Pimentel said, is a gross violation of the Omnibus Election Code, which provides that the tabulation of the results of the senatorial, congressional and local elections should be done simultaneously or continuously.

In fact, he added, the law also provides that the results of the senatorial elections should be tallied by the board of canvassers ahead of the results of the congressional and local polls.

Pimentel said the delayed canvassing of the senatorial ERs should not be tolerated under any circumstance because this is part of the modus operandi to manipulate the results of the senatorial contest to favor candidates of the administration.

According to him, the GO legal team will ask the Comelec, as national board of canvassers, not to tabulate the CoC from Maguindanao, supposedly showing a 12-0 score in the senatorial contest in favor of the TU candidates, unless allegations of large-scale electoral fraud are resolved.

Pimentel said the reported sweep is incredible and doubtful in view of allegations that ERs were falsified and votes for TU candidates were padded while votes for GO candidates were shaved.

He also noted that while the media reported poor turnout of voters in several towns in Maguindanao, the provincial election results reflected that 95 percent of voters had cast their ballots.

Pimentel cited reports that no actual voting took place in many parts of Maguindanao, including those controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Saying practically all the rules of fair play and transparency were violated in the Maguindanao polls, he denounced the refusal of local election officials to allow volunteer watchers of the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections to witness the canvassing of votes at the municipal and provincial levels and to obtain copies of ERs, as mandated by law.

The answer to whether the TU bets swept their GO rivals in Maguindanao may not be known now as the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) also yesterday announced that they will no no longer include in their national quick count the results from that province.

According to Namfrel Chairman Eduardo Go, they came up with the decision after election officials in Maguindanao allegedly refused to release copies of ERs to their volunteers.

Go admitted that their decision could affect the ranking of the senatorial candidates.

Maguindanao has 289,000 registered voters.

Namfrel saidt suspicions further grows on the so-called TU sweep with the revelation of another watchdog, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), that no actual voting occurred in Maguindanao.

Lawyer Carlos Medina, Lente co-convenor, also yesterday told reporters at the Namfrel headquarters in Greenhills, San Juan (Metro Manila) that on May 14, the teachers used the signatures and thumb marks of students for the ballots.

“The Comelec…on its own should do an investigation to find out if this is true or not…they should investigate to find out what really happened…” Medina said as he also appealed to the Comelec to set aside “technical requirements” such as affidavits from witnesses because the teachers would afraid to prepare such documents.

Malacañang also yesterday dismissed the allegations of the teacher and, at the same time, vented its ire on Estrada.

“It is very easy for them (GO) to say there had been cheating, and that they have witnesses but our question is this, do they really have concrete evidence against us?”? presidential legal adviser Sergio Apostol said.

Apostol added Abalos and his five commissioners should not be swayed by tprotests being aired by the Estrada camp and focus on the counting of the votes, especially the contested Maguindanao ballots that delivered a 12-0 victory for Mrs. Arroyo’s bets.

He said the Comelec must simply junk the protests of the opposition because they are merely sourgraping after being junked by the Maguindanao electorate. Angie M. Rosales and Jojo Arazas

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