• Poll watchdogs, experts join calls for Comelec probe

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    ADVOCATES of clean and honest elections have joined the snowballing support for the petitions filed by the Confederation of Non-Stock Savings and Loan Associations, Inc.(Consla) party-list group and Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking an investigation of the discrepancies in the results of the May 9 elections, which they said could be an indication of vote manipulation.

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    Retired Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said over the weekend that the poll body should not dismiss outright the request for an investigation for the sake of transparency and truthful elections.

    He said the fact that the alleged inconsistency took place at the server managed by the Comelec and used by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), its sole accredited citizens’ arm, makes it all the more imperative for the poll body to act on the matter.

    “When you say you’ll have transparent elections, you have to back that up with action. Otherwise, it’s just lip service,” Larrazabal said.

    The Reform Philippines’ Coalition (RPC), through spokesman lawyer Glenn Chong, on Sunday said that formal complaints are indications that the 2016 elections were far from being honest.

    “They (Consla) have screenshots of the PPCRV transparency server update showing they had garnered over 555,000votes, only to be deducted by over 300,000 votes in the final/official Comelec tally,” Chong lamented.

    Chong said he was puzzled by the conflicting results of the tally of the PPCRV and the Comelec with regard to Consla, considering that they used the same transparency server during the last elections.

    “The updates of election results are always additions, as there are no negative votes to justify a reduction of their already tallied votes,” Chong said.

    “We join Consla in their demands for Comelec to explain the anomaly. Cases of this nature cannot be simply ignored or disregarded. They scream for credible answers from the Comelec and Smartmatic,” the lawyer added.

    Chong made a similar observation with the case filed by Marcos. He also supported earlier calls to postpone the proclamation of the winner in the closely-contested vice presidential race pending results of an investigation on the alleged irregularities.

    Chong also disclosed that another party-list group is now also gathering evidence showing that the election returns do not match the votes reflected in certificate of canvass for their group.

    He did not, however, identify the group pending the completion of its evidence and the filing of an appropriate action.

    Also supporting Consla’s petition is an election watchdog, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE).

    LENTE executive director, lawyer Rona Ann Caritos, said it is the right of CONSLA to call for an investigation if it believes that it has sufficient evidence to prove vote manipulation in the recently-concluded elections.

    Caritos said an explanation from the PPCRV and the Comelec on the supposed discrepancies would build public confidence not only in the process but also in the poll body as a constitutional body.

    Caritos stressed that a denial by the Comelec of calls for an investigation “will affect the credibility of the AES (automated election system).”

    She noted that in the past, 2010 election issues were brought up in the 2013 elections due to Comelec’s failure to provide answers to various issues, particular on allegations of fraud and vote manipulation.

    Consla has petitioned the Comelec to conduct a probe on the discrepancy of the votes it received, noting that based on the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)’s quick count, its votes reached 342,513 on May 9, the first day of counting.

    The next day, the group noted, the PPCRV tally showed that its votes went up to 523,753 votes at 11 a.m. and 555,896 at 12 noon to occupy Rank #14 in the tally.

    Even the PPCRV had earlier expressed its support on the snowballing move, urging the Comelec to investigate the alleged irregularities in the last elections after a group of taxpayers asked Supreme Court to compel the Comelec to prosecute officials of technology provider Smartmatic Corp. for the unauthorized tweaking with the automated election system (AES) on the night of the May 9 elections.

    The Macos camp claimed that illegal changes done by Smartmatic on the transparency server of the Comelec in the command center of the PPCRV suddenly changed the complexion of the election results for vice president.

    WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL

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    1 Comment

    1. Mabait na Pinoy on

      COMELEC says “we are sorry we cannot entertain your request and the only way we can initiate action is when your group start filing a formal complaint with specifics. As of now, we cannot do anything because there is nothing from higher authority, such as the PET and nothing to go by.” The COMELEC says you are only disrupting their day to day operations and cannot stand with your bad breath. So please stop crying and go away.