Daily Tribune - Proving a rigged election

21 October 2017

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune 

How can the 2016 elections even be deemed credible when ballot boxes opened were said to contain 2013 ballots and where certain areas had a zero vote for a senatorial candidate?

Yet the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gave the thumbs up to Smartmatic despite the clear fraud that marked the automated 2016 and even the 2013 elections?

Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman and current presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino lost a Senate seat to now detained Sen. Leila de Lima who stood at 12th place in the Senate race and winning her Senate seat by an improbable 1.2 million votes over her rival.

Tolentino who lodged an electoral protest against de Lima before the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), yesterday bared that several ballot boxes in pilot precincts in Calbayog City, Samar contained ballots used during the 2013 midterm elections.

“As per revision, the ballot boxes contained ballots from the 2013 elections, whereas the ballots should refer to the 2016 elections.

“So we are questioning this (irregularity) of ballot boxes containing 2013 ballots,” Tolentino said in an interview.

Tolentino ran for a Senate seat in the 2016 senatorial elections, not in 2013.

He pointed out that the color of the 2013 ballots is of a different color. Also, the names are shaded. But I was not even a candidate during the 2013 elections. There were no presidential elections then. How then can these 2013 ballots be inside the ballot boxes? “After elections, the ballots are removed — unless there is an electoral protest,” Tolentino stressed.

Tolentino also questioned why he received zero votes in several areas of Basilan — Isabela City, Sumisip and Tabuan-Lasa — and Maguindanao — Datu Sinsuat, Parang and Matanog.

“For instance, Maguindanao, province-wide I won, so statistically it is improbable that there are towns where I got zero votes when I won in the province,” the currrent presidential adviser said, adding that zero votes were also tallied for him in Turtle Island, Tawi-Tawi.”

At least one polling precinct in Bocaue, Bulacan showed he led de Lima by at least 30 votes after the recount.

The SET started the manual recount of more than 600 ballot boxes on Wednesday as part of Tolentino’s electoral protest against the victory of the detained senator.

There have been suspicions that it was not only Tolentino who had been cheated out of his victory, but there were many others who were cheated too.

Can one imagine some virtually unknown national candidates made it as one of the top winners of the Senate race, such as now Sen. Joel Villanueva while candidates such as former Sen. Serge Osmeña lost to relative unknowns? And can one imagine Sen. Franklin Drilon taking the top slot in the Senate race?

And this is all clean considering that the voters were truly done with the yellows and their hypocritical daang matuwid?

But then, the Aquino administration controlled the levers of power and the Comelec chair was fairly yellow. But if the poll chairman is not impeached, since he may just resign, all these may come out if and when the Senate holds a probe against Andres Bautista.

There were other suspicious moves made by Smartmatic, which is always caught cheating in at least three electoral exercises and under three different Comelec chairmen, yet Smartmatic always gets the contract.

Worse, in 2016, Smartmatic was caught fiddling with the servers in the dead of the night, claiming that it was merely a cosmetic change where certain alphabet letters were altered. Funny but there were neither presidential nor vice presidential candidates having the Spanish letter “ñ” in their names.

But there went the Comelec chairman,even without any investigation, supported the lame excuse of the Smartmatic officer.

Still, as of now, Tolentino, through his protest in the SET, that can serve as proof the flaws of the automated election system.

Tolentino said the government should instead implement a hybrid election system where the vote counting at the precinct level is done manually.

Tolentino has a bit of luck on his side, as the SET generally does not take too long to declare who the winner is, in such electoral protests.

The Supreme Court, acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) takes as long as six years to settle a presidential protest, only to rule that the protest is moot as the term will have expired after six years.