Namfrel: Slow transmission might lead to cheating

Aries C. Rufo
Poll watchdog points out that a huge number of unreported election results are from the ARMM, which is 'historically the capital of cheating'

MANILA, Philippines – Have poll cheats found a way to manipulate the results of the election at the national level?

The National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) fears this is possible.

The poll watchdog on Wednesday, May 15, raised concerns about the turtle-paced transmission of results from some areas to the Comelec’s Transparency Server, thereby opening a window of opportunity for those who want to tamper with the results of the senatorial and party-list elections.

Based on data reflected in the Comelec server, Namfrel said only 69.23% of Election Returns  (ERs) had been received 44 hours after the polls closed, leaving more than 30% of ERs at risk of being manipulated.

“The possibility of manipulation remains,” Namfrel’s Damaso Magbual said in a news conference. He pointed out that as delays in the transmission of ERs are prolonged , “the credibility [of the results of the elections] grows weaker.”

Magbual said the 30% unreported ERs, or 24,082 ERs in all,  easily translates to at least 10 million votes, which could significantly alter the results in the senatorial and party-list races.

He argued that in 2010, the first nationwide automated polls, 80% of ERs have already been reported within 12 hours after the polls closed.

Magbual also pointed to the fact that a huge number of unreported ERs are from provinces comprising the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which are “historically the capital of cheating.”

Read: Coincidence? Transmission glitches in Garci boys’ areas

The ARMM area as of Wednesday have only reported a 40.47% transmission rate. Provinces in the ARMM have a combined 1.3 million registered voters. It has been the traditional area for special operations to pad and shave votes for those running for national elective positions.

Apart from the ARMM, other areas with low transmission rate are the Cordillera Autonomous Region at 55.17%; Region IX at 55.94%; Region II at 60.50%; and Region X at 62.50%.

The Caraga region and the National Capital Region have registered the highest transmission rate, at 81.11 percent and 80.61 percent respectively.

Senatorial races, specifically for the last two spots, have been contentious in previous elections, with candidates vying for the coveted last two spots, accusing each other of cheating especially in the ARMM and other provinces in Mindanao.

In 1995, former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. accused Senator Juan Ponce Enrile of pulling off dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving) in Mindanao to snatch the 12th spot at his and Rodolfo Biazon’s expense. In the 2004 national and local polls, cheating in Surigao del Norte province also cost the 12th Senate seat for former senator Rodolfo Biazon.

In the 2007 polls, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III charged Juan Miguel Zubiri of benefitting from a massive cheating operation in Maguindanao. Zubiri resigned from his post after disgraced Comelec official Lintang Bedol admitted to the cheating.

Rappler earlier reported that transmission in most of the regions were comparatively slower than in the 2010 elections, with 11 regions failing to breach the 50 percent transmission before midnight. In the 2010 polls, results came pouring in just hours after the polls closed.

Among the provinces,  Lanao del Sur, which is part of ARMM, has the lowest transmission rate two days after elections were over. It is followed by Ifugao, Sultan Kudarat, Mountain Province, Suli, Maguindanao and Zamboanga del Norte. –






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