CONGRESS will proclaim maverick Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte this afternoon as the 16th President of the Republic uncontested after a landslide victory, but neophyte Leni Robredo’s slim edge over the heir of the Philippine strongman Marcos is set to usher her to the vice presidency amid claims of election fraud and legal protests.
Camarines Sur Rep. Robredo clinched the second highest post of the land in a tight race with a lead of just more than 263,000 votes over Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. in an election that used the hotly debated automated system provided by the Venezuelan firm Smartmatic. Voters’ turnout was roughly 82 percent or 45.7 million.
At least two university professors, one a mathematical economist from Ateneo de Manila and another, a political science analyst and statistics expert from De la Salle University, said Robredo’s supporters continue to harass them online after they posted their findings on Facebook that it was statistically impossible for her to win the vice presidential race.
Lawyers for Marcos, meanwhile, pointed out an unusually high undervotes of nearly 4 million registered in the vice presidential race, and said the fight will go on as they plan to file a protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) contesting the official outcome of the canvassing of votes.
Fraud: Signs of a plague
De la Salle professor Antonio Contreras said several issues swirled around the vice presidential race which now need to be addressed if questions on the legitimacy of Robredo’s victory were to be settled.
“The issue here is fraud. And it is one already mediated by technology. The signs of the plague are there. I urge Bongbong Marcos to exhaust all legal remedies if only to make sure that this will never happen again. It was actually better that Marcos ended up losing, for it would have been difficult to probe fraud if he won. I can just imagine the illogic that would be raised, the same one now being raised at (President-elect Rodrigo) Duterte: “Nanalo naman. Paano dinaya? (He won. How was he cheated?)” he said.
He said in an earlier post on Facebook: “There is no glory in winning a highly questionable election. The ghosts of fraud will haunt you. And you will go down the annals of history as a product of that fraud. And worse is when you eventually lose in a protest. You will end up as a blighted footnote.”
Contreras gained more attention and bashers on social media when he corroborated a statistical analysis made by David Yap, instructor of Mathematical Economics at the Ateneo, of the quick unofficial count by PPCRV showing Robredo’s vote eradicating the nearly 1 million lead of Marcos in the early hours of May 10, when the nation was asleep.
Yap said it was statistically improbable to say that Marcos’ bailiwicks’ votes came in early, but were quickly overtaken when Robredo’s own votes from her bailiwicks were transmitted.
Contreras stressed that resolving the vice presidential issues is more important than arguing whether former President Ferdinand Marcos deserves a hero’s burial.
“I am sorry if I will have to focus my energy on cleaning up our electoral system so that future elections can indeed become true barometers of the people’s will, that I refuse to be drawn into this issue of the Marcos burial. It is an important symbolic issue that has the potential to divide us. But we have been sidetracked by so many symbolic debates that we lose track of those that will have serious impacts on our democracy, like elections,” he explained.
Contreras also pointed out the “undervotes” – which he said were staggering at 3.9 million.
Referring to an argument of Prof. Douglas Jones of the University of Iowa, who authored a popular book – “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?” he said: Professor Douglas Jones is not just a data scientist. He is an election science guro. So I hope this will put him at par, even more qualified than David (Yap, the other professor from Ateneo), myself and the 104 signatories of the statement who claim that they are data scientists, combined.
Contreras quoted Jones as saying that an undervote of 5 percent is already suspicious.
“Ours was beyond suspicious at 8.43 percent for the vice president,” Contreras said.
Another international statistician, Ma.Victoria V. Ferro, provided Contreras an analysis of the election results on a precinct basis, made by an associate of hers who requested anonymity.
“There were many precincts that had more than 90 percent turnout. A turnout like this indicates voters that are eager to vote and have a high degree of enthusiasm. An analysis of the undervote percentages of the precincts that had 90 percent turnout is very revealing. Take note that according to Prof. Douglas Jones, the noted election scientist from Iowa, an undervote of 5 percent is already suspicious, and that of 10 percent is highly suspicious,” he said.
“Data shows that we have 3,130 precincts whose turnout was more than 90 percent, indicating high voter enthusiasm, but whose undervotes for Vice President are considered suspicious, to highly suspicious, to even preposterous, with three precincts showing 95-100 percent undervotes!” he added.
Contreras also raised the issue of “missing votes.”
“This is not rocket science. In any election, the equation should be that: Number of total votes in the election = Total votes for each candidate + Number of undervotes (voters that did not shade a candidate) + Number of overvotes (voters that shaded more than one candidate),” he said.
“I have received information that for the VP (race) this is not allegedly the case. It is being alleged that when we add all the votes cast for all the six candidates, the number of undervotes and the number of overvotes, the sum is less than the number of total votes cast. This indicates that there are missing votes, and the estimate is around 299,315 based on the data downloaded from the PPCRV transparency server,” he added, referring to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.
“If this is true, where did these 299,315 votes go? The answer is nowhere to be found.”
Contreras also supported the demand of the Marcos camp for a system audit to determine if there were human interventions during the transmission of votes.
A political analyst said on Sunday, however, Marcos will have to prove that there was cheating if he intended to file an electoral protest.
Prof. Ramon Casiple, executive director of the Institute For Political and Electoral Reform (IPER), said the issue on undervotes cannot be considered cheating given that it happened as a natural election occurrence.
He said that if Marcos would push through with the filing of an election protest case, he would have to prove that the undervotes were a result of cheating.
George Garcia, the legal counsel of Marcos, earlier said that one of the grounds that might be raised if a protest pushed through, was the unusually high number of undervotes.
Casiple said that Marcos is using the same argument used by Liberal Party standard bearer Manuel in the 2010 vice presidential race.
Roxas, in his election protest filed several months after the May 10, 2010 elections, noted that the election returns did not reflect the actual votes for the vice presidential race because of several reasons, including the high incidence of null votes, erroneous uploading of final testing and sealing results from the clustered precincts, reported cases of fraud, irregularities and statistical improbabilities in certain clustered precincts.
Senate President Franklin Drilon in a radio interview maintained that there is nothing unusual with the high number of undervotes.
Drilon said that based on the numbers, about 1.4 million voters did not shade any name for the vice president.
Contreras said he and Yap were being harassed on social media after they posted on their Facebook accounts their findings on the irregularities surrounding the vice presidential elections.
The harassment turned intense before the National Board of Canvassers finished its official counting on Friday.
Yap has deactivated his Facebook account after several users started posting “nasty” messages against him.
Yap had posted on his FB account his statistical analysis of the quick count showing Robredo’s vote eradicating the nearly 1 million-vote lead of Marcos on the evening of May 9. Marcos was leading the count on the night of May 9 but his numbers and those for Robredo were reversed in the early hours of May 10. Since then, “the increase and decrease of votes between Robredo and Marcosa was constant and the graph showed a straight line,| Contreras told the Manila Times the week after the elections.
Contreras continues to fight his online bashers.
“I was confronted in private by a young Robredo supporter on FB to provide clear and empirical evidence of election fraud. I pointed out to her the videotapes from Maguindanao and Basilan where LP (Liberal Party) supporters were seen pre-shading ballots for VP and LP local officials, and my own experience with an LP campaigner giving out sample ballots just outside my own voting precinct and of massive disenfranchisement in Lucban, Quezon, both of which I personally witnessed and wrote about here in social media. She just wouldn’t believe me,” he said.
Contreras said someone also tried to hack his FB account but he was able to repulse the attacker.