THE United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) on Tuesday joined the growing clamor to investigate those who have a direct or indirect involvement in alleged cheating during the May 9 elections, saying poll cheaters should be punished.
“If we are to bolster faith in democracy and elections, election cheats must be punished even if they belong to the losing party,” UNA spokesman Ramon Ilagan said.
He added that revelations made on Monday by three witnesses on electronic poll tampering and manipulation of election results to favor candidates of the Liberal Party (LP) must be taken seriously.
One of the whistleblowers claimed that in Quezon province alone, at least 400,000 votes were added to those LP standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd.
“What is unraveling are incidents of tampering with the people’s mandate by a political party hell bent on keeping power at all costs. These incidents must be exposed, investigated fully by the proper authorities and charges filed against the perpetrators,” Ilagan said.
He added it is clear there were incidents of digital tampering initiated by the administration party to favor its candidates.
“While it did not affect the votes for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, it has an undeniable impact on the actual rankings and the actual votes for the other presidential candidates.
And it clearly undermines the people’s faith in elections and the democratic process,” Ilagan said.
“The Commission on Elections [Comelec] should not dismiss these allegations outright.
The claim of electronic vote shaving in Quezon province merits a full forensic review of the election management system as we have petitioned earlier,” he added.
The revelations of the three IT technicians presented by Council for Philippine Affairs head Pastor “Boy” Saycon bolsters UNA’s call for a “forensic review” of the Comelec’s election management system, Ilagan said.
UNA, in a letter to the commission en banc on May 23, requested the poll body to conduct a forensic examination of the Election Management System (EMS) for the May 9, 2016 presidential elections in line with real transparency and protecting the integrity of the automated elections.
“Electronic dagdag-bawas [vote padding-vote shaving]is just one part of what is emerging to be a systematic, well-organized and well-funded operation. On Election Day, we received and documented complaints of massive vote buying, breakdowns of vote counting machines, disenfranchisement and votes for Vice President Jejomar Binay being registered electronically as votes for Mar Roxas,” Ilagan said.
UNA maintained that the Comelec should act on allegations of fraud, otherwise these will only erode the public’s confidence in the Automated Election System.
“While the votes for President-elect Rodrigo Duterte were large enough to overcome cheating, it cannot be denied that cheating and other poll violations occurred,” Ilagan pointed out, saying credible elections are a foundation of a stable democracy.
Several senators also want Congress to investigate claims of poll fraud as they found the claims of the three witnesses who surfaced on Monday credible.
Senator Sergio Osmeña 3rd said allegations of election cheating in Quezon province should be looked into. “
So far credible. I can’t tell yet exactly but this is part of a bigger plan,” said Osmeña, referring to the revelations of the whistleblowers.
The senator met with the three unnamed individuals who claimed to have taken part in the supposedly electronic poll cheating in Quezon.
In a news conference Monday, the three said a ranking government official who is a member of the Liberal Party (LP) was behind the vote-shaving and vote-padding operations in the province that allegedly benefited Roxas and Rep. Leni Robrero.
According to them they helped manipulate election results to increase votes received by Roxas, Robredo and LP senatorial bets including Senate President Franklin Drilon.
“I was not shocked after learning about it,” Osmena said.
He declined to identify the LP member.
Osmena said his votes may also have been affected not only by the cheating in Quezon but other fraud operations.
Senator Vicente Sotto 3rd sees the need for Congress to review the Fair Elections Act.
“We have to invite these people to shed light on what they know and we will be able to test the veracity of their allegations, if we convene them in a hearing when we tackle amendments to the Fair Elections Act,” Sotto said.
The senator added that the allegations of fraud should be investigated because similar claims were also made in the 2013 mid-term elections.
“If that happened in 2013 and in 2016, then I see no need for us to conduct an elections in 2019. We’ll just ask [technology provider]Smartmatic who they want to win,” Sotto said.
He added that reviewing the Fair Elections Law should be a priority in the 17th Congress.