3 ‘witnesses’ appear at Senate news conference
A RANKING government official who is a member of the Liberal Party (LP) was reportedly behind the vote-shaving and vote-padding operations in Quezon province that allegedly benefited Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Rep. Leni Robrero, whistleblowers said on Monday.
The three men who claimed to have taken part in the supposedly electronic poll cheating showed up at the Senate accompanied by civil society group Council on Philippine Affairs (Copa) head Pastor Boy Saycon.
The three met with Senators Sergio Osmeña 3rd and Teofisto Guingona 3rd.
In a news conference, the men, whose faces were covered, revealed that they helped manipulate election results to increase votes received by Roxas, Robredo and LP senatorial, bets including Senate President Franklin Drilon.
The men said they received orders to manipulate the election results from a ranking official of the government whom they refused to identify.
“Nagpasya kami lumantad dahil kami po ang mismong nakasaksi at ginamit na kasangkapan sa pangyayaring ito [We decided to come out because we were able to witness directly and were used as instruments in this incident],” one of the whistleblowers, who claimed to have worked as a logistics supervisor in the provincial government, said.
He added that their work involved manipulating the votes being transmitted by municipalities to their operation center, which was put up before the May 9 elections.
“We will change the votes garnered by the candidates based on the instructions given to us, then transmit the new figures to the Smartmatic machines at the second and third floor of the building which will then transmit [the new figures]to the various servers,” one of the men explained.
Smartmatic, a Venezuelan firm, is the technology provider for the recent elections.
The whistleblowers said they were given SD (secured digital) cards containing the figures that they should input on computers that would transmit results to Smartmatic machines.
One of the witnesses said the SD cards they used in the operation were taken from them but they were able to hide some of the cards and these are being kept by one of their colleagues.
The men said while votes were also taken from other vice presidential candidates – with Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. losing the most votes – at least 200,000.
They added that the votes were transferred to Robredo, who, based on the Commission on Elections’ website, received 385,164 votes in Quezon.
Marcos got 173,394 votes.
Roxas, the witnesses said, obtained 400,000 additional votes from the province, which had 1,124,090 registered voters.
A check with the Comelec website, however, showed that Roxas got only 205,791 votes in Quezon.
It was Sen. Grace Poe who actually garnered the most number of votes in the province, at 305,814.
The witnesses said all candidates were victimized in the cheating operation in Quezon.
They vowed to present evidence to back their claims at the proper time.
When asked how much they were paid to carry out the operation, the men said their remuneration was equivalent to the salary of an ordinary worker.
Bothered by conscience
The whistleblowers said they decided to come out to clear their consciences and to seek protection from those who may want to silence them.
They added that they sought the help of Saycon because the latter is known to assist those who want to tell the truth.
Saycon told reporters that before he agreed to help the three, he checked their backgrounds first.
The whistleblowers were members of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC or Church of Christ), an influential religious organization that had told its members to vote for eventual President Rodrigo Duterte and Marcos.
“I agreed to help them, but I told them that the only protection I can give them is for them to tell the truth,” Saycon said.
He added that the Quezon incident showed that those involved in the cheating used various electoral tricks to help their candidates win.
The camp of Marcos found the latest revelation “interesting.”
George Garcia, head of Marcos’ legal team, said they have not yet contacted the new witnesses.
“These are indeed interesting times… and we are open to anything that can help in the search for truth,” Garcia added.