Comelec dares Adaza to identify poll officials allegedly engaged in fraud

May 25, 2010 8:22 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, May 25 — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday dared lawyer and former assemblyman Homobono Adaza to identify the four regional election officials who allegedly engaged in poll irregularities in the May 10 automated polls.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, at the resumption of the hearing of the committee on electoral reforms and suffrage of the House of Representatives, said complainants should come out with names of poll officials allegedly involved in cheating in this year's first automated polls in the country.

"We would like to have them named. If they can name them in executive session, it doesn't bring any problems to tell the Comelec that we have rotten apples among us," said Jimenez in a chance interview after the hearing.

Adaza earlier claimed that a person — whose identity the lawyer refused to disclose — reportedly told him that some Comelec officials were involved in assuring candidates poll victories in exchange for fees as much as P1 billion.

He said his informant did not tell him who the four regional poll officials were.

Adaza, however, agreed to divulge more details on the alleged poll fraud, including the name of his informant, in an executive session with members of the House Committee on Electoral Reform and Suffrage.

He also claimed that one of the four regional election officials even bragged that he or she was one of the "operators" in the highly-controversial "Hello, Garci" scandal that earlier cast doubts on the victory of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said the Comelec's request for identities did not only apply to Adaza but to all individuals — mostly losing candidates in the recently concluded polls — who have claimed to have been offered "pre-programmed" compact flash (CF) cards before May 10.

Among those who claimed to have been approached by supposed poll manipulators include the camp of former President Joseph Estrada, who is second place in partial results; as well as defeated Surigao del Norte gubernatorial candidate Robert Ace Barbers and defeated Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor Jr.

"Inaanyayahan namin and lahat ng tao na nagsasabi na kumausap sila ng Comelec official o may umalok o kumontrata sa kanila na Comelec official na pangalanan sila (We are inviting everyone who claim that they have been approached by Comelec officials or have been offered arrangements that would benefit their campaigns to name these same Comelec officials)," he said.

Jimenez assured that the poll body would be more than willing "to throw out" Comelec officials who would be proven to have connived in alleged election manipulation.

He, however, acknowledged that there could be "rotten apples" within the poll body who might have participated in rigging election results.

Jimenez said the poll body would seriously look into the allegations.

"All are indications that something might have gone wrong and yet it appears that everyone wants their particular set of indications to be the tip of the iceberg, and that’s the sense that the Comelec is getting from this," he said.

At this moment, Jimenez said, he would not make the conclusion that the credibility of the Comelec is being affected.

"Right now, we are seeing what we said we would see pre-election, we said that people would try to prove that the system can be broken… and that’s exactly what we’re seeing now and we will weather this and we will make sure that we answer all allegations," he said.

Jimenez said the poll body would await results of the ongoing random manual count to compare the electronically-generated results. (PNA)

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