Daily Tribune - Pandora’s box

15 August 2017

Daily Tribune 

The troubles of Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista are piling up and it appears that being impeached is now the least of his worries.

The integrity of the conduct of the 2016 is increasingly being questioned as more alleged irregularities of Bautista are uncovered, primarily his dealings with automated polls system provider Smartmatic.

The poll chief’s problems started from a domestic spat on alimony that went out of control after his wife, Patricia, exposed documents showing probable misdeals that Bautista is into.

The integrity of the Comelec and the elections were already placed in a cloud of doubt due to allegations of manipulation in the vice presidential vote that Liberal Party (LP) candidate Leni Robredo won by a little over 200,000 margin on former Sen. Bongbong Marcos.

Two allegations of Mrs. Bautista stood out in relation to the Comelec chairman and the holding of the national elections last May.

It was alleged that Bautista received commissions from the Divina Law Office which is the counsel of Smartmatic and that he met with Smartmatic officials in the United States after the holding of the elections.

Bautista admitted the meeting in the US happened and so did his receiving money from the law firm representing Smartmatic.

Bautista said his meeting with Smartmatic officials in the United States was an “official function.”

His version is that he was in the US on government invitation to observe the US elections and Smartmatic was also among those invited.

Patricia said she discovered several checks and commission sheets that purportedly came from lawyer Nilo Divina, managing partner of DivinaLaw.

She also accused her husband of receiving commissions from Baseco and United Coconut Planters Bank which are under sequestration and that becomes relevant since Bautista is also the former head of the Presidential Commission on Good Government.

The allegations on Bautista in connection to the May polls give reason for the recollection of the so-called Novotel incident on election day in which vote rigging operations were suspected.

The Comelec citizens’ arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting raised an alarm to Bautista on election day of Smartmatic personnel and vote counting machines being found in the hotel within the Araneta Center vicinity which is the commercial area in Cubao, Quezon City owned by the Roxas family.

Strangely, it was then Noynoy’s anointed presidential candidate Mar Roxas who first issued the denial on the allegations of automated fraud in Novotel followed by Bautista after a visit to the hotel for an inspection.

Bautista, however, knew that Smartmatic personnel were billeted in the hotel but made no further inquiries.

Bautista, accompanied by media, made a room search but found no VCMs since the operation was likely tipped off.

Later, three whistle-blowers surfaced indicating a similar operation of automated vote rigging undertaken in a building in Quezon province favoring Liberal Party candidates Mar Roxas and Leni Robredo.

The spokesman of the trio said he is not a technician but was trained to handle the cheating machines and said the results in a municipality were transmitted to their operations hub where these are manipulated before being fed to
Smartmatic machines which then transmit the votes to the servers.

The operations were quite extensive as it needed the use of at least three floors in the building the operators used.

The other accomplices supposedly encode the results and transmit these from the municipalities.

Asked who had ordered them to manipulate the votes, the witness said it was a high government official and the Liberal Party.

The witness said Robredo’s closest rival, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, lost about 200,000 votes just in Quezon province while Robredo allegedly received an additional 300,000 votes.

The votes, which were allegedly added to Roxas were more than 400,000.

He said votes were also added to certain senatorial candidates including Senate President Franklin Drilon, vice chairman of LP.

The three whistle- blowers sought the help of Pastor Boy Saycon of the Council for Philippine Affairs.

Some half-a-million votes were allegedly padded in Robredo’s vote in Quezon alone after 200,000 votes were removed from Marcos and 300,000 were added to

Sen. Serge Osmeٌña was a major victim of the auto fraud operations and called for a Senate investigation that did not happen.

Saycon also called for the conduct of an exhaustive probe on the allegations of fraud and prosecute those found to have rigged the elections.

The several investigations lined up against Bautista may just open the Pandora’s box on the sinister alliance between the yellow mob led by the LP and Smartmatic in automated vote rigging since the 2010 elections.