HERE’S one for the books: A Commission on Elections (Comelec) department filed charges against personalities opposing automated polls before the Comelec en banc after a former Comelec chairman submitted an affidavit to the department, which was conducting a fact-finding investigation against the oppositors.
On Wednesday, the Comelec law department filed formal complaints before the Comelec en banc against presidential aunt Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco, Archbishop Ramon Arguelles, former senator Francisco Tatad , former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales and several others for violation of election laws, including tampering with and stealing of official ballots.
Law Department Acting Director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal submitted the complaints following a fact-finding investigation based on the affidavits submitted by former Comelec Commissioner Sixto Brillantes and Worth Acosta, Cojuangco’s former executive assistant.
Four of the cases filed were for violation of Batas Pambansa 881 or the Omnibus Election Code and one count for violation of Republic Act 8436 or Utilizing Without Authorization, Tampering With and Stealing Official Ballots.
Also included in the complaints were Acosta, Glenn Chong, former Baguio City Rep. Bernardo Vergara, Ferdi Balanag, Eliseo Rojo, Alicia Onoza, former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman, Melchor Magdamo, Lito Averia, Kamil Unda and several John and Jane Does.
Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia said the Comelec en banc is set to conduct its preliminary investigation on the findings of the Law department to determine if there is probable cause.
“The Comelec has the power to conduct preliminary investigation. If there is probable cause, charges will be filed in the proper courts. But if there is none, we will dismiss it,” Guia said.
In his affidavit, Acosta disclosed that he, with the aid of several accomplices, tampered official ballots stolen from the warehouse of the Treasurer’s Office in Baguio City, which were later used as evidence by Cojuangco and company to support their claim of electoral fraud in the 2013 elections.
Acosta narrated that he has attended and witnessed several meetings at Cojuangco’s residence at Acacia Street in Forbes Park, Makati City (Metro Manila), which were also attended by political figures who lost in their respective bids in the 2013 elections.
Among them, he said, were former lawmakers Jun Biron (Iloilo), Marc Cagas (Davao del Sur), Annie Susano (Quezon City), Rodolfo Valencio (Oriental Mindoro) and Cecilia Luna (Abra), a certain Jalosjos from Zamboanga, Mayor Jappy de Dios of Tarlac, former Cebu governor and now Rep. Gwen Garcia, Sultan Kudarat Gov. Teng Mangudadatu, former Quezon City Mayor Brigido Simon and political strategist Boy Saycon.
“The meetings were mostly devoted to discussions of electoral fraud and massive cheating in the 2010 and 2013 automated elections. The politicians wanted to show that they lost the elections because of cheating,” Acosta added.
He said Chong, a twice-defeated congressional candidate, was invited to the meetings later after a research he made regarding election frauds committed in 2013.
According to Acosta, it was Chong who proposed, and everyone agreed, that the best way to prove election fraud is to take a look at the actual ballots used in the 2013 elections.
Chong allegedly suggested the remote island of Maripipi in Biliran as the target area for their plan to obtain the ballots, but this did not materialize. They later turn to Baguio City instead on the suggestion of Cojuangco.
On orders of Cojuangco, Acosta said he travelled to Baguio City where he was met by people wearing t-shirts marked “Treasurer’s Office.”
These people allegedly helped him to enter the warehouse and retrieve some of the ballots being kept there.
Thereafter, he added, he returned to his room at Villa Cordillera where he was instructed by Chong to tamper with the ballots by making it appear that all the candidates’ votes in the actual ballots were padded.
“On ballots where only Aliping’s [the winning congressman]oval was shaded, I shaded another candidates’ oval in the same position in order to null the vote by making an over vote; on ballots where no votes were cast, I shaded Vergara’s oval,” Acosta explained.
“Also upon Glenn’s instructions, I tampered with the ballots in my possession so that Tingting’s votes would significantly increase therein.
This was done to boost up her votes in the actual ballots, which, in truth, were very shamefully low,” he said.
According to Acosta, he parted ways with Cojuangco sometime in June 2014 over differences in a business venture.
He has a pending application to be included in the Justice department’s Witness Protection Program.
In his corroborating affidavit, Brillantes said he has reason to believe the allegations after interviewing Acosta in his office last January.
He added that Cojuangco and company were vocal critics of the Automated Election System.
“I learned from Acosta that Cojuangco, Chong and Magdamo are part of an organization called the National Transformation Council [NTC].”
Brillantes said members of the NTC have been meeting at Cojuangco’s residence in Makati.
The NTC, a multi-sectoral organization, is demanding the resignation of the President and his Cabinet.
Brillantes said what Cojuangco, Chong and their accomplices did was a criminal act punishable by life imprisonment.
“These acts are punishable as election offenses under the Omnibus Election Code, and based on additional evidence that may be produced, for election sabotage under Republic Act 9369,” he added.