Defeated candidates bare being approached by persons to manipulate poll results

May 24, 2010 8:06 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, May 24 — Defeated candidates on Monday bared that, as early as last year, they were approached by persons who told them that the 76,000 compact flash (CF) cards that would used for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the May 10 elections would be recalled due to defects, and that during this period manipulation of the CF cards could take place.

At the resumption of the hearing of the committee on electoral reforms and suffrage in the House of Representatives, Surigao del Norte Governor Ace Barbers, who lost his re-election bid, said a man approached him in November 2009 and told him that if he did not hire his services for P50 million, it would be offered to his opponent.

Barbers said he ignored the offer. But when all the CF cards were recalled on May 5 because of defects and were replaced with reconfigured ones, Barbers said he felt as if "ice-cold water was poured over me."

He said the man, whom he did not identify, was on the verge of coming out.

Barbers also told the House committee that the same offer was made to Laguna Governor Teresita Lazaro.

He said it was unbelievable that he would lose in his re-election bid amid the support he received from his constituents.

Barbers said his vice governor, two congressmen, and 21 mayors also lost their bid in the province.

The Surigao del Norte governor also presented a video showing a member of the board of election inspector (BEI) trimming the ballot to fit in the PCOS machine.

However, Smartmatic Inc. spokesman Cesar Flores said the ballot could be folded and the results would still be read accurately as long as the barcode and the ultraviolet marks are kept intact.

Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor said a man also approached him and told him about the recall of the CF cards.

"In due time, I'd like to locate the guy," he said.

The issue on the recall of CF cards came out after a masked whistleblower, whom House committee chair and Makati City Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. described as looking like a "koala bear," divulged his knowledge about the alleged fraud in the last election.

The masked whistleblower said he had knowledge about vote-shaving of some presidential candidates to favor a candidate.

Meanwhile, Locsin said newspaper columnist Buddy Cunanan should come forward to substantiate the story of the so-called "koala bear" whistleblower.

It was Cunanan who presented the videotape of the masked whistleblower — alternately called "Robin" and "koala bear".

"It is the obligation of Buddy Cunanan to come forward. He can tell his story, I will let him talk. But I will certainly not look for him," said Locsin.

He stressed that unless the alleged whistleblower does this, his so-called testimony would not in any way damage the credibility of the elections and of apparent impending victory of Senator Benigno Simeon "Noynoy" Aquino III to the presidency.

"But the one thing I know, if he (whistleblower) doesn't come forward, then I'm happy because then there is no doubt that will be cast on the legitimacy of the election of the son of Cory Aquino," said Locsin.

He said he would not take it upon himself to search for the alleged masked whistleblower.

"I have no obligation to look for this creature. I am a congressman. Point to me a congressman who actually looks for anything. I am not going to break that tradition," he said. (PNA)

vcs/LGI

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