By Francisco S. Tatad | The Manila Times
REGARDLESS of whom they had campaigned and voted for on May 9, the people’s quick acceptance of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s “landslide victory” has spared the nation of the post-elections trauma that many had feared. But a growing perception, bordering on belief, that the Independent vice-presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has been cheated or is being cheated, even as we speak, of his rightful victory, has engendered fears that public anger could spill into the streets.
We should do everything to avoid it.
Anger seems to be building up not only among the ardent supporters of Bongbong Marcos, but even among those who are simply concerned about the integrity and viability of the polls. They believe that the unofficial count by the famously misnamed “Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting” (PPCRV) is being manipulated to alter the actual votes from the precincts, rob the winner of his legitimate victory, and favor a losing candidate. This requires concrete proof, but people will not wait for it.
Many did not vote during the elections. They could not see meaningful change coming; they were also convinced the law was not complied with, and that it would be marked by fraud. But even they are angry with what the Aquino regime is doing to Marcos.
Not just for Bongbong
“I am angry, and I feel I have every right and reason to be very angry,” says one such individual. “Not because they have stolen my vote, but because they seem to believe that in this year of our Lord 2016, and in this country of over 100 million mostly literate and mostly Christian Filipinos, they seem to believe they could still do anything they want and get away with it.”
It’s the cry of a wounded conscience.
What has happened, and is happening, defies logic, statistical probability and precedent. Marcos, after leading the unofficial count from 5 p.m. of May 9 by as much as 1 million votes, was mysteriously overtaken by LP’s Leni Robredo by 1 a.m. of Tuesday in an undeviating linear or straight-line pattern which confounded analysts.
While Marcos’s votes stagnated, Robredo’s votes moved with mechanical regularity, increasing by the same percentage for every 40,000 votes until Marcos’s lead was completely wiped out. The pattern was reminiscent of the 2013 senatorial elections when Aquino’s candidates swept the polls following a 60-30-10 formula all over the Philippines. The votes were identical in 59,666 precincts, 60 percent for PNoy’s candidates, 30 percent for UNA, and 10 percent for the Independents.
In the present count, Robredo obtained more votes than her running mate Mar Roxas even in his own bailiwicks, where she was virtually unknown. She also got more votes than Marcos in areas where there was completely no basis for it. For instance, in one precinct in the Muslim province of Basilan, according to one report, she got 529 votes while Marcos got zero. This was an incredible phenomenon that has no acceptable explanation. Generally, Muslims do not favor women holding political power or high office, so if there was anyone to receive a zero vote in Basilan it should have been Robredo rather than Marcos.
From Sultan Kudarat, where my legal counsel Manuelito Luna monitored the elections, I received the following message: “I’ve seen with my own eyes how hundreds to thousands of votes got electronically altered during the process of transmission and manual importation. This is by far the best evidence of how canvassed results could be changed and thus wreak havoc on the electoral system; worse, cause the defeat of national and local candidates. This happened in one of the provinces in Mindanao. This is one damning evidence that might prove the manipulation of election results in Bongbong Marcos’s case.”
There is an obvious padding of votes, coming from various sources. The most widely cited theory mentions a float of three million votes, which were either built into the 54.3 million official total of registered voters, or hidden in the 70 million voters’ list exposed on March 27 by the hackers of the Comelec website. The float was intended to catapult Mar Roxas to number one position if the gap between him and Duterte was not that wide.
But the gap turned out to be more than 6 million votes, so the Liberal Party decided to divert the float to Robredo instead. This was their so-called Plan B—to make Robredo the vice president in lieu of Marcos, and then prepare to impeach and remove the next President, like Erap Estrada, so that Robredo, like VP Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, could succeed in office.
Aquino the real villain
It is altogether possible that Robredo knew nothing about the plan, and how she would get millions of votes that were not hers. In that sense, she is not the villain but also a victim, like Marcos. The real villain is Aquino, who declared he would lead a “people power” march against Marcos should the Filipino voters choose him as their Vice President.
In 1170, Henry II, King of England, had only to say, “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?” for four loyal knights to strike down Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, as he ascended the steps of the altar that cold December morning. Not surprising therefore that the cyber operatives at Comelec and Smartmatic would do everything to make it unnecessary for PNoy to call for a march after the elections, which even his once loyal minions might ignore.
Thus everything was done and is being done to inflate Robredo’s votes. In addition to the alleged “float” of 3 million votes, reports persist about the use of an “intermediary server,” which acts as the illegal laundering machine for votes in transit from the precincts to the final canvassing center. Two former police generals were reported to have been in charge of the vote-laundering operations at Novotel Cubao.
A PPCRV informant was initially responsible for calling attention to some mysterious Smartmatic activities inside the hotel. But, according to reports, the Comelec chair Andres Bautista quickly cleared the hotel of any questionable activities. And PPCRV formally failed to supply further details on the information. Our sources, however, insist that the “intermediary operations” remained undisturbed in the end-rooms of the two top floors of the hotel.
Public attention has since shifted to a Venezuelan staff member of Smartmatic named Marlon Garcia for changing the script in the transparency server, without the authority of the Comelec, about a week before the election. Garcia has admitted tweaking the server, purportedly to correct an error, but claimed that his intervention did not alter the results of the elections. This was the same Marlon Garcia who was accused of tampering with the software at the server in Pope Pius XII Center during the 2013 senatorial election, where all of PNoy’s candidates won even in areas where nobody knew them. Garcia got away with this action without any sanctions.
In a news conference on Friday, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon blasted Smartmatic for the unauthorized action, and vowed a formal investigation. But she was quick to say the incident did not change the data in the transparency server. That was a conclusion without any scientific basis. The appropriate forensic investigation should first be made to find out whether or not any data was altered because of that intervention. The public must be fully satisfied that the tweak did not alter the hash codes of the Comelec packet data, which could ultimately rearrange the data at the server.
This is the fear of the Marcos camp, which many reputable AES analysts and experts share.
It is, however, possible that the Garcia incident could be only a red herring. The lightning and thunder coming from the Comelec could put the spotlight solely on Marlon Garcia, so that no one would pursue the earlier lead on the “intermediary server.” From the very beginning, IT experts and analysts considered this “intermediary server” as the most deadly threat to the integrity of the entire May 9 polls. Today, it is hardly mentioned.
In addition to the votes being added to Robredo from apparently pre-programmed sources, some votes belonging to fellow candidate Francis Escudero have already “migrated” to his fellow Bicolano. Some other vice-presidential bets are reported to have been asked to donate some of their votes to her just so she would beat Marcos. Alan Peter Cayetano outdid himself by prematurely conceding the election to Robredo in an obvious move to piss off Marcos.
Even the Senate seems to be interested in getting into the act too. This has to do with the reception of the certificates of canvass and election returns. Under the Constitution, the returns of every election for President and Vice President, duly certified by the board of canvassers of each province or city, shall be transmitted to Congress, directed to the President of the Senate. Upon receipt of the COCs, the Senate President shall, not later than 30 days after the day of the election, open all the certificates in the presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives in a joint public session, and the Congress, upon determination of the authenticity and due execution thereof, in the manner provided by law, canvass the votes.
Senate in action
To implement this provision, the Senate President issued Policy Order No. 2016-002 providing the rules and guidelines on the reception of the COCs and ERs for President and Vice President. All COCs are to be received and stored at the Claro M. Recto and Jose P. Laurel rooms on the second floor of the Senate, which is located at the GSIS building in Pasay City, while all ERs are to be received at the covered parking area on the Ground Floor. All COCs are to be received by a reception team, specially created for the purpose, except for the first set of COCs, which will be received by the Senate President.
There are reports that all the COCs are now being delivered to and received by the office of Senate President Frank Drilon, who is a top LP official and a reelectionist senator. There are also reports that while the Senate is preparing for the national canvass, which opens on May 25, Drilon has authorized Atty. Edwin Bellen, chief of the COC-ER Reception Team, to leave his post and travel to Singapore. These naturally elicit unnecessary speculations.
An Ateneo mathematician and statistician, David Yap, has tried to offer an analysis of Robredo’s improbable performance. But he was threatened by some cyber bullies on the web and had to duck for cover. De La Salle Prof. Antonio Contreras, who was one of my co-petitioners in the disqualification case against Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares before the Commission on Elections and the Supreme Court, shares Yap’s analysis, and has tried to explain what seems completely Greek to a lot of people in some forums. Last night, he was on my weekly GNN cable program with Catholic Media Network Director Ariel Ayala and Abakada Party List Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz.
There is seething anger out there, as I said in the beginning. And Aquino has caused it all. He has one last chance to do what is right, or to be buried in ignominy after he leaves Malacañang. It’s his call.