FACT CHECK: No ‘dead voters’ for Robredo in Negros Occidental town

Rappler.com
A blog post claiming poll fraud in Salvador Benedicto town has got the wrong vote counts. Then the Comelec and Namfrel officials deny ever making the statements attributed to them.

Claim: A blog post by philrepublicnews.com on December 26, 2017, claimed that Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo got votes from “dead voters” in Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental. The post was referring to individuals who allegedly used the names of deceased people that were still on the voters’ list.

As a result, Marcos supposedly received only 153 votes in the municipality, while Robredo got 7,879 votes. 

The information reportedly came from the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and from officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Bacolod City.

“Bacolod election officials have determined that more than 22,000 votes (that’s 7,879 more than yesterday) so far in the the province of Negros Occidental are null and void because the voters don’t appear to be living,” said the post, supposedly quoting the news.

This blog post has resurfaced on social media amid the ongoing recount of votes from the 2016 vice presidential polls, in relation to the election protest filed by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr against Robredo before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

At least 3 other blog posts have carried the same story as of this posting. 

Rating: FALSE 

The facts: Based on election results from the Comelec Transparency Server, Robredo got only 5,293 votes, while Marcos received 628 votes in Salvador Benedicto, Negros Occidental, with 100% of votes transmitted.

VP Candidate Votes
Robredo, Maria Leonor 5,293
Escudero, Francis Joseph 1,901
Cayetano, Alan Peter 836
Marcos, Ferdinand Jr 628
Trillanes, Antonio IV 410
Honasan, Gringo II 166

Rappler also verified the allegations with Namfrel and Comelec.

Namfrel secretary general Eric Alvia told Rappler on Monday, April 23, “No report from [our] Bacolod chapter issued such statement.”

Comelec-Bacolod City Election Officer Mavil Majarucon Sia clarified that she could only speak for the city, and not Salvador Benedicto town. Nonetheless, she said their office had not received any reports of “dead people” voting in the city in 2016.

A Comelec-Negros Occidental official, who requested not to be named, also denied that such incidents happened in the province.

The official also questioned the claim that over half of the voters in Salvador Benedicto are supposedly “dead.” The town has 14,277 registered voters, with 12,460 of them voting in the May 2016 polls.

The official explained to Rappler that, on election day, the voters’ lists inside polling precincts contain photos of the voters. This allows election inspectors to identify the actual voter.

The official also argued that the media as well as watchdogs were very vigilant in the province, and they would have picked up on this claim if it were true.

The official then challenged those who have proof of such claims to submit it to them for verification, and even invited them to the province for fact-finding investigations. 

Both Comelec officials also explained to Rappler that, before the polls, the voters’ lists go through hearings by an election registration board (ERB), which has the local civil registrar as one of its members. In these hearings, the names of deceased persons are deleted from the voters’ list. (READ: Why ghosts are still listed as voters

The blog post did not provide a link to a news report containing the “dead voters” claim, nor mention the exact source of its quotes. One of the blog posts that ran the same story almost word-for-word linked to a page with the domain newstv1.altervista.org as its source. The said domain is now suspended.

Memebuster.net debunked the same allegations in January 2018.

The website philrepublicnews.com has a history of posting false news, such as when it falsely reported that Senator Grace Poe would push for a ban on Facebook in the Philippines if she is reelected in 2019. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com