The camp of senator and presidential bet Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos is conducting an investigation over an alleged vote manipulation by the COMELEC on Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV).
As posted on Manila Bulletin By Mario B. Casayuran and Charissa M. Luci
Independent vice- presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is the only one losing in five foreign countries where overseas absentee voting is currently taking place until May 9.
Marcos, one of six vice-presidential candidates said his loss is being investigated by his legal team that is now collating evidence on vote receipt discrepancies in the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) in preparation for the filing of a complaint before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The five countries where there is allegedly an election “anomaly” taking place, according to Marcos, are California, Hong Kong, Dubai, Kuwait, and Japan.
Marcos said he would not take the vote receipt discrepancies sitting down as his team is currently gathering evidence from people abroad who have personal knowledge of the incidents wherein votes cast in his favor were credited to other candidates in the receipts.
The senator said he received several complaints from Filipino voters in Kuwait, Dubai, Okinawa aside from Hongkong that their votes for Marcos were credited to his rival, Sen. Gregorio Honasan, the running mate of United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay.
“We are in the process of collating all complaints, all data in preparation for the filing of a complaint before the Comelec regarding the controversy. We will exert all efforts to get to the bottom of this,” he said.
More vote receipt discrepancies have been reported with the latest happening in California, USA.
“When the voter in California complained to the election officers, he was scolded by the Board of Elections Inspectors (BEIs) who ordered him to just go home. The BEI even allegedly tore his vote.”
Marcos lamented, “What is disturbing is that I am the only one losing votes!”
Marcos chided Comelec over its warning to voters against taking selfies with their receipts. Instead of wasting its time on such matters, the Comelec should ensure the conduct of clean, honest, and credible elections on May 9, he said.
The senator made the call after the Comelec said BEIs in Dubai, Hong Kong, Vientiane in Laos, Madrid in Spain and Singapore reported incidents of voters taking selfies with their ballots, which is strictly prohibited. Commissioner Arthur Lim said the poll body will investigate if charges should be filed.
“Instead of going after voters taking selfies, the Comelec should focus all its efforts in addressing various issues that threaten the credibility of the elections, such as the reported discrepancies in the ballot, the printed receipts and the hacking of their website that compromised voters’ data,” he said.
Marcos said the reports on the alleged discrepancies in the votes cast and the contents of the printed receipts could have spurred voters overseas to take selfies with their ballots.
“You cannot fault the voters to take actions in a bid to protect their vote if they continue to hear reports of alleged flaws in the voting process. So, instead of going after those taking selfies, the Comelec should get its act together to allay any suspicions of cheating or voting irregularities” he added.
Bautista said,”if this is true, this is worrisome, since they were saying that the vote for X is being given to Y,” he said when asked how the poll body would resolve the situation.
“Our challenge or our call to those saying these things is to file a formal complaint,” added Bautista. He also urged the concerned individuals to file their objection to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).
“They should put the receipt to show that there is a discrepancy between the receipt and the one that they voted,” Bautista said.
But the poll chief is not discounting the possibility of a voting error.
“Sometimes, its voting error, right? We think we voted for this person not knowing that we shaded the name of the wrong person,” said Bautista.
The Comelec chairman said it’s so easy to say things but what is important is for those making claims to prove the allegations.
“Our call to the political parties is if they have such evidence, they should give it to the BEI,” Bautista said.
ON ITS OWN
But senatorial candidate Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez who is also a victim of the vote switching scored poll chair Andres Bautista on his advice for victims to lodge a formal complaint.
“The Comelec can initiate a motu propio investigation to verify this very crucial incident that was reported in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. It is within their power to investigate any possible serious misconduct,” Romualdez, a lawyer and president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) said.
Romualdez said one of his coordinators in Hongkong was surprised that the voter receipt reflected the name Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares instead of his. The voter reportedly told the Comelec representative about the discrepancy and only “took note” of the complaint.
Nevertheless, Romualdez said he is now preparing a letter-complaint to question why his votes were credited to a rival candidate.
“They have to act with dispatch because this may affect the integrity and outcome of the elections. Their mandate is to ensure peaceful, clean and honest polls and they should immediately act to stop any illegal, unjust and improper activities this coming election. We have to determine if any crime or offense has been committed,” the leader of the House Independent Bloc said.
“Of course we will file a letter-complaint while we are working on possible proof or leads of the supposed wrongdoing. But what I am saying is that Comelec cannot just ignore this very serious allegation of possible fraud in the election process,” he said.
“We want to know all the circumstances regarding that incident and we want the said ballot retrieved,” Colmenares said.
BINAY, DUTERTE TOO
Meanwhile, ABAKADA Party-list Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz also protested the disturbing irregularities in the OAV in a letter sent to Bautista.
“These reports which have been widely circulated in both traditional and social media, if true, are definitely disturbing and a cause of great concern to us all,” he said in his letter.
The letter noted that the breaches include, among others, incomplete voters list resulting in confusion and ultimately failure to vote; irregular vote verification which allegedly happened in Hong Kong and Kuwait where the voters for Marcos were counted for Honasan and non-reading of votes cast for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Binay in Japan.
“As we only have less than two weeks to go before the general elections, may I request Your Honors to kindly act on these reports soonest since, if left hanging, these may serve as precursor of fraud and wayward activities impacting negatively on the conduct of the May 9 polls,” de la Cruz said in his letter.
President Aquino reiterates he will do everything to block the younger Marcos from returning to Malacañang palace. Marcos supporters believe Aquino would resort to cheating and election fraud just for his personal obsession to stop Marcos, despite of the latter’s excellent political record and accomplishments.