MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista on Tuesday, May 31, questioned the 3 self-proclaimed "whistleblowers" who surfaced at the Senate a day earlier to allege election fraud.
The whisteblowers, presented by Aquino critic Pastor "Boy" Saycon, claimed to have manipulated election results in the province of Quezon. Their operations supposedly favored Liberal Party candidates, including Vice President-elect Leni Robredo.
Bautista said that the first time he learned about these whistleblowers, he thought it’s "too late the hero."
The elections chief said in an interview with dzMM: "Bakit ngayon lang? Kung meron talagang ebidensya at may pruweba ng dayaan, bakit ngayon lang lalantad? (Why only now? If they really have evidence and proof of cheating, why did they surface only now?)"
Bautista pointed out that it’s already the last week of May, 3 weeks after the last national and local elections.
"Kung talaga namang nagkaroon ng ganitong klaseng dayaan, dapat lumabas sila kaagad (If there was really this kind of cheating, they should have surfaced earlier)," he said.
Bautista added that the Comelec implemented all security features of the automated election system, as required by the law. One of these is issuing voting receipts as ordered by the Supreme Court.
Robredo: 'Parang hindi makatotohanan'
"Marami pong checks and balances. Marami pong safeguards e. Kaya hindi po ako talaga makapaniwala sa mga ganitong klaseng paratang (We have many checks and balances. We have many safeguards. That’s why I really can’t believe these kinds of accusations)," the poll chief said.
In any case, Bautista said, the Comelec is open to investigating claims of fraud as long as accusers have enough evidence.
The Comelec handles election offense cases, such as tampering with the automated election system.
Electoral protests over the presidential and vice-presidential elections go to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is the Supreme Court.
The whistleblowers on Monday claimed they helped manipulate an additional 500,000 votes for Robredo in Quezon.
The official tally approved by Congress, however, showed that Robredo got 380,277 votes in Quezon.
Robredo said that if this were true, then it would seem like her number of votes started from a negative figure. “Parang hindi makatotohanan (It doesn’t seem truthful),” she said.
Robredo’s tightest rival in the vice presidential race, Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr, has repeatedly insinuated fraud in the May 9 elections.
Saycon, however, denied that the whistleblowers have links to Marcos.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.