Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Daily Tribune Without Fear or Favor

PMP bares proof of massive fraud

Charlie V. Manalo

05/16/2010

The camp of former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada showed documents yesterday which it will use to support allegations of massive electronic fraud in the country’s first automated elections held last May 10 some showing pre-programmed votes that are dated way ahead of election day.

At a press briefing held at Estrada’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) headquarters in Mandaluyong, party campaign manager Ernesto Maceda presented photo copies of election returns signed by members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), but were dated before the May 10 polls.

Maceda said the documents, furnished to him by former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, showed election returns in Manila dated not May 10 but April 28, May 4 and May 9, to support allegations of poll pre-programming.

PMP senatorial candidate Francisco Tatad added the May 10 elections involved a scam so enormous it could make the “Hello Garci” scandal of 2004 a mere child’s play as it involved electronically pre-programmed results, prompting him to call on all the candidates, winners and

losers, to join him and file a petition for a constitutional action with the possibility of seeking the nullification of the election results.

“I am calling on all losing and winning candidates to join me for the possibility of filing a petition for constitutional action for the a possibility of nullifying the election results,” said Tatad citing a precedent in Germany wherein the German High Court declared unconstitutional the E-votes cast.

Tatad said that he would file an impeachment case against Comelec for the deliberate actions done to prevent voters from acquiring valuable information with respect to their votes.

Maceda also claimed receiving reports of anomalies from various provinces.He said in Compostela town in Cebu, the tally in the Certificates of Canvass did not match 34 election returns.

“The integrity of the PCOS machines have been compromised because it has produced falsified electronic documents such as: the tally of the ERs did not match with the COCs, and there were incomplete print logs,” Maceda said, quoting Compostela mayoral candidate Ritchie Wagas. Maceda noted that the first falsified electronic documents were discovered in Compostela, Cebu, wherein he said the election returns in several precincts did not match the certificates of canvass because the flashcards were tampered.

Malacañang, meanwhile, said it will be the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) discretion on what to do with the controversies hounding the agency related to the alleged electronic poll fraud.

The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (Cenpeg) also issued a statement Friday urging the poll body to stop destroying the defective compact flash cards as these were deemed valuable in assessing the recent poll exercises.

Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said thee Palace is deferring to the poll body’s discretion in answering all questions being hurled to its officials by the agency concerned. Olivar, however, said insofar as Malacañang is concerned, it was satisfied with how Comelec officials handled the recent poll automation.

Maceda said that even Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia who was expecting a winning margin of not less than half-a-million votes but managed to win by only around 60,000 votes over her rival, has declared the election results to be unbelievable.

In Davao City, Speaker Prospero Nograles, who ran for the mayoralty race, claimed the election was rigged.

In Quezon City, losing mayoralty candidate, Rep. Annie Rose Susano and winning congressional bet Jorge Banal reported cases of pre-shaded ballots.

In Angono, Rizal, the Tribune personally witness pre-shaded ballots in favor of Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III being distributed to voters.

“The same complaint was aired by former congressman and congressional candidate Jacinto Paras in the first district of Negros Oriental; among other candidates,” Maceda added.

In Antipolo City, Maceda said 60 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines were in the custody of a technician while nine other PCOS machines were reported missing in Maggao. Iloilo.

In Manila, Maceda said Atienza had also been claiming that the random manual audit had shown huge discrepancies with the PCOS printout. In one precinct alone, a difference of 200 votes was credited to Mayor Alfredo Lim.

“And this is probably the reason why Erap lost heavily in Manila, particularly in Tondo which is one of his strong bailiwicks,” Maceda said.

“And who would imagine Erap losing in San Juan?,” he added.

The PMP campaign manager said he is still at a lost why the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had not done anything to resolve the issue.

“The Comelec, in its own admission, said that 195 clustered precincts, covering 150,000 voters, had faulty transmissions involving faulty flash cards,” said Maceda. “And while it had done practically nothing to resolve the issue, Comelec chairman Jose Melo was quick to on TV and announce the results as if he was the one mandated by law to proclaim the winners,” he said.

Maceda also expressed alarm over reports that the Comelec had started destroying flashcards from certain areas.

“If the Comelec so much as attempts to destroy the flashcards, which will be the key to determining these anomalies, they would be the principal suspect in this massive electoral fraud,” Maceda said.

Maceda stressed the importance of the random manual counts now that these reports of discrepancies in results are surfacing.

“The slow pace in the delivery of the results of the random manual counts is highly suspicious. It is almost as if they are hiding something,” Maceda said.

Tatad questioned, among others the disabling of the built-in ultra-violet detection capability of the PCOS which was meant to prevent the use of ballots without the proper UV markings; the disabling of a feature that allowed the voter to see that the machine was reading his vote right when the votes are cast and the Comelec’s general instruction to the Board of Election
Inspectors (BEI) not to digitally sign the data to be transmitted from the PCOS machine because the digital signature generated by Smartmatic for the inspectors was, according to the Comelec, already encoded into the machine, effectively putting the function of the digital signature generation, transmission and confirmation in the hands of one entity, Smartmatic, without any independent body to check it.

Tatad, describing the elections as Hocus PCOS, expressed his frustration as a candidate and called on all other candidates who feel that they were likewise cheated as well as those who may have won but know that the votes they garnered are not probable, to join hands in this effort to unfurl the massive electronic electoral cheating that just happened.

Tatad clarified, however, that he was speaking not as an Estrada representative but for himself.

“I want to make it clear that in this effort I am not representing President Estrada but speaking as an aggrieved candidate. I feel that my rights as a candidate have been trampled upon,” Tatad said. “My problem now is not whether to claim victory or accept defeat but my problem is how to understand what happened.”

“This Hocus PCOS makes the Garci scandal look like child’s play,” he said.

In the same press briefing, Estrada’s lawyer George Garcia also questioned the hasty delivery of reconfigured flash cards the week prior to the elections as logistically improbable.

“Were the 76,000 flash cards really returned and reconfigured or were the so-called substitutes already prepared and ready for delivery in the short period of three days?” Garcia challenged. “And if there was really nothing irregular going on, why is it that the Comelec did not allow the presence of media and party watchers during the reconfiguration?”

Garcia also put into the question the participation of Venture Link Int’l, saying they must also be held accountable for the irregular flashcards.

“Did the Comelec know and approve the subcontracting by Smartmatic to Venture Link of the reconfiguration of the flashcards that failed in the tests?,” he said.

Garcia said Smartmatic must be held fully accountable for the malfunctioning and misuse of the PCOS machines, which caused the disenfranchisement of over 10 million voters.

Garcia appealed to Congress to see to it that the flashcards used in the elections are stored to be made available to Congress when needed.

“Congress will be the last bastion to ferret out the real votes cast. We urge Congress to require the submission of the flash cards as well as manual counting in a certain number of municipalities to establish the veracity of the counts,” said Garcia.

However, when asked if they would push for a manual recount of all the votes should huge discrepancies be discovered, Garcia said it would be up to Congress to decide.

“The Palace supports whatever decisions the Comelec wil render concerning this issue. It has always been our position that the Comelec is the only one authorized to answer all issues relevant to the conduct of elections,” Olivar said.

Olivar reiterated that Malacañang feels vindicated with the recently concluded poll exercises for it was able to disprove longstanding allegations by some quarters on NO Elections(Noel) and Retain Arroyo through failure of elections(Rafael) scenarios. “Our firm position (in favor) of the Comelec’s competence during those critical periods makes us feel vindicated,” Olivar said. “And so, given that, we see no reason why we should change our position (on the matter) if ever there are still some issues that are yet to be resolved,” he added. Olivar stressed that their trust and confidence to the poll body will never waver whatever against all the issues it is facing.

Aytch de la Cruz

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