May 31 2016 12:00am

3 whistle-blowers who claim poll fraud seek protection

Three alleged witnesses to poll fraud surface at the Senate in Pasay City yesterday.  GEREMY PINTOLO                                               

MANILA, Philippines - A logistics supervisor and two other information technology-trained encoders sought yesterday the help of senators for protection after they linked the pro-administration Liberal Party (LP) to alleged manipulation of votes in Quezon province.

Meanwhile, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Luie Guia said yesterday the whistle-blowers must be able to present evidence of their allegations.

"We only appeal for them to have some sense of responsibility," he said.

"There is no problem. As long as they have enough bases, the Comelec is prepared to help look into the problem." 

The whistle-blowers claimed that they were tasked to intercept the results of the elections in Quezon province to favor of LP candidates.  

"We decided to come out… we witnessed and participated in this  (fraud)," one of the whistle-blowers told reporters at the Senate. 

For their safety, they wore hoods and covered their faces to avoid being identified.

One of them said he saw some personnel from technology provider Smartmatic in the five-story building where the poll manipulations allegedly happened.

They accused LP officials of being behind the poll operations to benefit LP standard bearer Manuel Roxas II, his runningmate, now vice president-elect Leni Robredo and some senators and members of the House of Representatives.

The whistle-blowers said they were trained to use the machines for two weeks before they were deployed in Quezon province on election day.

They sought the help of  Council for Philippine Affairs secretary general Pastor Saycon, who accompanied them to pay a courtesy call on Sens. Sergio Osmeña III and Teofisto Guingona III, who both lost their re-election bids last May 9.

Saycon said the whistle-blowers claimed to know the actual operations of the manipulations that happened.

"They operated the machines that received the precinct cluster votes from Quezon to a central server in Lucena City,"  he said.

"The question is why they were receiving the votes, before these are sent to the central server and the transparency server." 

Saycon denied involvement or links with any politician or group.

"I am here because I am not involved with any political personalities," he said.

Saycon said the revelations came to him as a surprise because his investigation was focused on the reported cheating in Maguindanao and Lanao provinces, where ballots were allegedly pre-shaded.

"They were operating 10 machines and they were shaving votes of all the candidates who are running against Liberal Party," he said.

Saycon wanted to defer the proclamation of winning president-elect Rodrigo Duterte and Robredo.

He estimated that Duterte could have had 21 million votes but these were shaved during operations, making him settle for over 16 million votes.

The joint session of Congress proceeded with the proclamation of Duterte and Robredo at the House of Representatives yesterday afternoon.

Based on the Certificates of Canvass tallied by the National Board of Canvassers, a total of 893,878 votes were counted in Quezon for the presidential candidates, where Sen. Grace Poe enjoyed a lead with 305,814 votes; Roxas with 205,791; Duterte got 184,950 votes; Vice President Jejomar Binay with 175,002; Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago with 21,768; and Rep. Roy Señeres, 553.

For the vice-presidential race in Quezon, Robredo won with 385,164 votes; followed by  Sen. Francis Escudero at 191,444; Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. with 173,394; Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, 54,702 votes; Sen. Gregorio Honasan, 27,946; and  Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV with 29,572. The votes counted for VP in the province were placed at 862,402.

'Impossible' claim

Robredo's lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the allegations from the so-called whistleblowers were untrue, citing the votes in Quezon.

"What they're saying is impossible. Just show me one COC that does not match," Macalintal told reporters shortly after Robredo was proclaimed as vice president-elect.

He advised Marcos' camp not to file an electoral protest as it will take time and cost them at least P300 million for the recount.

 "Maybe in three years, he'll (Marcos) decide to run for senator again. I hope he'll think things through and not believe those whistleblowers," he said.

Robredo denied she was involved in any cheating.   - With Sheila Crisostomo, Paolo Romero

 

 

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