MALOLOS CITY: Election officers of Bulacan admitted on Friday some of them received USB flash drives last week which Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado alleged contained pre-encoded rulings on the verification process as part of the recall petition against him.
Acting Provincial Election Supervisor Temie Lambino said some election officers received the flash drives in the early morning and noon of April 1, the day election officers were scheduled to rule on the number of valid petitioners after the verification process was finished.
However, Lambino noted that none of the election officers used or opened the said flash drives, saying any accusation coming from Alvarado will remain “allegations” until proven.
Lambino met with the election officers on Thursday to discuss the issue after they finished consolidating the verification results.
Legal counsels of Alvarado earlier asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to investigate the incident, accusing the camp of Perlita Mendoza, the lead petitioner, as its perpetrator.
Lambino, who is the concurrent regional election director, said the poll body is taking the issue seriously and will conduct an investigation once the Commission en banc gives the go-signal to proceed.
“This would be subject of formal investigation. We’re just waiting for the en banc resolution because this was subjected last Tuesday during the en banc session that the Commission on Elections would be very serious about the USB [flash drive]issue,” Lambino told journalists.
“We would conduct formal investigation to that,” he added.
The poll official said he had ordered the election officers who received the said flash drive to turn it over to the provincial election office and seal it in an envelope. He said they are still verifying the names of those who received the flash drives.
The election officers finished with the rulings of the verification on Thursday, and found that out of 249,177 contested signatures and thumb marks that were examined and verified, a total of 181,201 or 72.7 percent have been cancelled and thus considered not counted in the petition.
This means that only 67,959 petitioners were found to be valid by the election officers from the 21 municipalities and three component cities. Based on the Comelec Resolution No. 7505, the petition needs at least 10 percent of the total voting population to proceed. Bulacan has 1.83 million voters.
Asked if the content of the flash drives could alter the result of the rulings should election officers used the flash drives, Lambino said it is still uncertain as they have yet to examine its content.
Meanwhile, petitioner Mendoza has denied Alvarado’s accusation. She said it was her camp that was unfairly treated by the provincial election office.
She said the Bulacan Comelec did not clearly explain to them what is the basis of election officers to invalidate the signatures, stressing that they never submitted falsified or fake signatures.
The consolidated report will be submitted to the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations, which will review and evaluate the petition.
The petitioners in the recall elections against Alvarado had scored Bulacan poll officers for delaying the recall exercise.
In a press conference held in Quezon City on Thursday, Rep. Joselito “Jonjon” Mendoza Jr. of the 3rd district of Bulacan and a member of the Liberal Party, made the observation after Lambino issued a decision also on Thursday showing there were fake signatures in the recall petition.
He added the regional Comelec seem to be delaying the proceedings. The petitioners’ camp has until May 8 this year for the recall elections to push through.
Mendoza said there is an obvious move by all concerned parties for the recall petition not to prosper.
Malou Talucot, a former signature verifier of Alvarado, claimed that they were ordered by provincial officials to slow down the verification process to delay the recall petition.
Talucot said they were paid P1,000 each a day, on top of free meals and other perks.
“I was a formerly with Gov. Alvarado, and we were ordered to delay the verification for 10 to 15 minutes so the submission of the report will be slowed,” she said, adding that she can no longer stomach what the incumbent Bulacan government was doing.