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Showdown

Last week, radio reporter Febe “Bords” Morales of Aksyon Radyo 720 posted on his Facebook wall a photograph of Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor, Sr. chatting with former 4th District Board Member Mitch Monfort-Bautista with her husband at the Capitol. It was made to look like Aksyon Bords stole a picture through a small opening of the door. But it wasn’t really a scoop; it was a deliberate media leak hatched at the Capitol to show a possible alliance between the Defensor family and Mitch Monfort, daughter of the late Cong. Dr. Narciso Monfort, in the next elections. Far from being kept a secret, the meeting was intended to be leaked to send a message to Dr. Ferj Biron, M.D., the incumbent congressman of the 4th district who is poised to run for Governor against Rep. Arthur “Toto” Defensor, Jr. in the May 2019 elections.

mitch monfort with defensor

Photo credit: Febe “Bords” Morales of Aksyon Radyo Iloilo

From what we are seeing, there is no more turning back for Defensor and Biron. Biron is reportedly fielding one of his sons to replace him as congressman, and the meeting between Gov. Defensor and Mitch Bautista is an indication she will run again and challenge the son. She ran and lost to Biron in the May 9, 2016 elections. Defensor is now sending a message to Biron that the latter’s turf will face a tough challenge. And we can expect Defensor to put up candidates for Congressman and municipal mayors in other districts.

Early on, Biron has started courting the support of the congressmen and municipal mayors in the province. A year ago, Defensor Sr. and his son, along with Representatives Arcadio Gorriceta, Biron and Raul “Boboy” Tupas agreed to field a consensus candidate to represent their alliance. Biron was able to gather the commitment of support of most of the municipal mayors in the province. He was quick to claim the title as consensus candidate. But Defensor Sr. backtracked on his commitment for a consensus candidate and announced the candidacy of his son.

It’s still a good one year before the elections are held for Governor, but the protagonists can now be narrowed down to just the two: Biron and Toto Defensor. Cong. Oscar Richard Garin Jr. of the 1st District had initially shown interest in becoming the third force in the equation. The controversy over the Dengvaxia vaccine, however, in which his wife Janette played a key role (she was listed as among the former public officials to be charged criminally by the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee) doused cold water on his plans. He has since kept quiet on the gubernatorial race.

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1/4 shading for Leni is cheating, period.

How difficult is it to shade a small oval to indicate a voter’s choice among candidates for a political position? Well, with the use of a marking pen, it doesn’t take one second to fully shade the blank space inside the oval. It would be more difficult keeping the shading from spilling out of the oval itself. Hence, it is hard to imagine how a voter, even the old who might have difficulty holding the marking pen, could possibly shade only 1/4 of the oval.

ballot shading

That’s especially when we consider that the candidate is a local bet aspiring to be Vice President of the Republic. If the voters, thousands of them in Camarines Sur in this case, really rooted for Leni Robredo, they would have taken extra care in shading the oval just to make sure their votes are properly credited to her.

It must also be recalled that for months before the elections, the Comelec and media organizations, especially TV, aired voter education activities, and much airtime was spent showing voters how to properly shade the oval. Nothing was left to chance, and shading the oval just 1/4 of the space simply cannot be justified.

This is the reason the efforts of Leni to get the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to accept her argument that 25% shading of the oval is sanctioned by Comelec. With the small size of the oval, 1/4 is more like a dot using the marking pen. It is not the kind of shading a voter would make to express his or her vote. It is more consistent with haste and rush to mark hundreds, if not thousands of ballots, by one individual.

What this indicates is fraud, especially because it involves thousands of ballots found with only 25% shading. It unmasks the gigantic cheating to add votes for Leni and enable her to catch up with her rival, Senator Bongbong Marcos, who had led by 1.9 million votes going into the third day of the national canvass in May 2016. As experience has shown time and again, a trend is established early in the first six hours of an electronic canvass, and never is reversed in the way Robredo squeaked past Marcos.

Leni won by “systematic cheating”

It is now a downhill ride for Leni Robredo towards oblivion. The “systematic cheating” that propelled her to a hairline victory over former Senator Bongbong Marcos in the May 9, 2016 elections is now being uncovered in the ongoing manual recount before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET). What she has described as “systematic decreasing” of her votes in her motion asking the PET to apply the 25% threshold is merely reversing the outcome of the cheating. She is now becoming the victim of her own — and the Liberal Party’s — cheating machinery.

leni robredo credit inquirer nino jesus orbeta

Photo credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Yesterday (April 20, 2018), a debate broke out on my Facebook wall over a report that Leni has already lost as much as 5.000 votes in the first two weeks of the manual recount. Two rabid supporters of Robredo joined the thread and claimed this report about the 5,000 votes was “fake news”. Now that is amusing, because at least two national newspapers quoted insiders at the PET as the source of this information. And Leni herself used the term “systematic decrease” to describe what is happening.

The PET denied her motion. She has appealed. By the way she sounds now, it’s as if her survival depends on persuading the PET to allow the 25% shading to be counted as valid.

Of course, the issue about shading isn’t the only factor that will lead to Leni’s defeat. Already, evidence on the large-scale cheating have surfaced: ballots being soaked in water, tampered ballot boxes, etc. This is just for Camarines Sur. Marcos has also asked the PET to do a manual recount for Iloilo and Negros Oriental. With her narrow margin of 263,000 votes — a really thin hairline difference — Leni could find herself in the loser’s box once the PET is done with these three provinces.

There is a lesson here: cheating does not work. As one friend remarked on Facebook: “Bad karma is real”. Leni is slowly being tortured by karma.

Game over for Robredo: cheating backfires

The nullification of an estimated 5,000 votes for Leni Robredo after these were discovered to have been shaded well below the 50% threshold set by the Comelec in 2010 has sent her camp into panic. Her lawyers have asked the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), to allow ballots shaded only 25% of the oval beside her name as valid votes. The PET, however, denied her motion. There is no Comelec Resolution that allows the counting of votes with only 25% shading, the PET ruled.

Still trying to play victim of injustice, Robredo has issued a statement asking the PET to “play fair” even as she filed a motion for reconsideration on its ruling Thursday. (April 19, 2018) She insisted that the PET allow shading of the oval beside her name to be counted in her favor. This is an exercise in futility. As the PET pointed out, the Random Manual Audit Guidelines and Report submitted by the Comelec cannot substitute for the provisions of Comelec Resolution No. 8804 promulgated on March 22, 2010 that set the threshold at 50% shading.Leni motion for reconsideration

What the Comelec being relied upon by Robredo to back her claim — Minute Resolution No. 16-600 — is a tell-tale sign of the post-election cheating that former Comelec chairman Andres Bautista put into motion to cover the tracks of the irregularities that propelled her to a hairline victory over former Senator Bongbong Marcos.

Instead of helping her, the evidence that Robredo is now presenting even serves as a rusty anchor that will pull her down to the bottom of the sea. It is game over for the Liberal Party cheating machinery. The nullification of the 5,000 votes for Robredo is a significant shift in the tide. Add to that the glaring evidence of tampering with the ballot boxes and rendering the ballots useless for purposes of manual recount by soaking them in water.

The come-from-behind “victory” of Robredo defied all logic. Indeed, as in almost all elections, especially for those conducted electronically, the trends on who will emerge the winner is set after 2 or 3 hours. Marcos had already led by over 1 million when all of a sudden this was reversed. At the blink of the eye, Robredo won by 263,000 votes. Only cheating could have made that possible.

‘Very good’

The opposition has thrown about everything they have in their arsenal. but the net satisfaction rating of President Rodrigo Duterte has remained constant at “very good” in the 1st quarter 2018 poll survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

The President’s gross satisfaction rating fell only 1% for the period with 70% of the 1,200 respondents nationwide giving him a “satisfied” rating while 14% said they were “dissatisfied”. This translated to a net 56% net satisfaction rating for this survey period, or 2% lower than his previous net satisfaction rating of 58% in December 2017.

This only establishes one thing: Filipinos approve of the way President Duterte is running the country. The issue of extra judicial killings that led the International Criminal Court to open an investigation in February this year clearly had no effect on the President’s popularity. It’s as if nothing could shake the people’s confidence in the man.

What does this imply?

For one thing, Filipinos want a tough leader to confront the illegal drugs problem. For many, the casualties in the drugs war are a necessary evil. The problem cannot be licked with the so-called rule of law, which is very weak in the first place, and drug syndicates have always managed to run circles around law enforcers with their money and influence, and well-paid lawyers. That’s not to mention rampant corruption in law enforcement, the national prosecution service and even the judiciary.

And, as we have seen, putting drug lords and pushers to jail is hardly making a dent on the problem. Even while in jail, drug lords continue with their business, running their operations with the use of cell phones smuggled inside jails. Sadly, nothing much has changed after President Duterte deployed the Special Action Force, the elite PNP unit, to guard the National Bilibid Prisons. The corruption is frustrating the efforts to stop illegal drugs.

In simple terms, the government is severely handicapped in this war against illegal drugs if it sticks to the rule-of-law approach. And Filipinos understand this. They realize violence is a necessary evil in fighting the illegal drugs syndicates.

It’s just too bad that many of the casualties are poor. That’s because they are vulnerable to the lure of easy money that the illegal drugs business offers.

Another reason why President Duterte enjoys high trust ratings despite the barrage of issues thrown against him by the opposition is that Filipinos have grown sick and tired of the rhetoric of the yellows, particularly the Liberal Party. The nation saw one of the worst corruption in its history in the six years that the Liberal Party was in power. Worse, the Liberal Party cheated in the last two elections in a vain effort to perpetuate themselves in power.

And it was the Liberal Party that orchestrated the P3.5 billion Dengvaxia mass vaccination that is believed to have caused dozens of deaths among Filipino children and put the lives of thousands more at risk.

President Duterte is not perfect. I have said this time and again. But he is the best option for the country right now. The worse thing that could happen to the Philippines is allow the Liberal Party to retake power.

 

 

Wet ballots a tactic to delay manual recount

A few days ago, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, lawyer for Leni Robredo, said the manual recount could drag on for six years. Ordinarily, that statement is to be taken with a grain of salt. But the discovery of wet ballots not only in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal where the electoral protest filed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos is being heard since April 2, I can see that this is the tactic adopted by the Liberal Party to prevent an early resolution.

Yesterday, my sources at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) revealed that ballots in the third district of Camarines Sur were also found to be wet. These were from the town of Calabanga and Naga City. After the HRET is finished with these ballots, they will have to be stuffed back into the boxes and delivered to the PET. Well, the ballots might already have dried up by then. But the PET will only find what is now known: the ballots are useless for purposes of revision.

This is no longer an accident of nature. My guess is that wet ballots will ultimately be found in all towns of Camarines Sur when the revision committees at the PET shall have completed the task of opening each ballot box and taking out their contents. Is there any other conclusion we can reach with these discoveries of wet ballots? This wasn’t the work of nature; it was done by human hands.

Atty. Romulo Macalintal was quick to downplay the discovery of wet ballots. Marcos, he said, has no evidence of the fraud that he is claiming. Well, he is right in a way. That’s because the water soaked ballots have been rendered unreadable. It will prevent the revisors from doing what they have been mandated to do: examine each ballot to find out to which candidate an individual vote went. There is nothing to read anymore, that’s why.

I will now connect this to what Macalintal said about the manual recount taking as long as six years. He is conditioning the mind of the people to expect further delays in knowing the truth. With the wet ballots no longer readable, the revision committees will have to turn to the image captures of the individual ballots as these were inserted into the VCMs. This will take time, a long, long time.

The facts are clear. Soaking the ballots with water to render them unreadable is a delaying tactic. It will frustrate the bid of Marcos to determine the genuine outcome of the elections for Vice President in the soonest possible time. The Liberal Party has resorted to a crude ploy to force the manual recount to slow down to a crawl. Only Leni can possibly benefit from a delay. If the manual recount goes beyond 2022, as what Macalintal hinted at, then the whole process will become moot and academic.

With this scenario, the Filipino people will have to guard against further destabilization efforts of the Liberal Party in a desperate move to topple President Rodrigo Duterte and push Leni to the Presidency. We have also to pray that the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, will not allow these delaying tactics to succeed.

 

‘Wet’ is the name of the game in CamSur

The discovery of “wet” ballots from Camarines Sur municipalities isn’t just confined to the on-going manual recount of ballots for the disputed position of Vice President in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Just a while ago, I received information that similar patterns of tampering and cheating were also uncovered by the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal in the election protest filed by former Rep. Luis Villafuerte against incumbent Rep. Gabby Bordado.

The HRET began the revision of the ballots for the town of Calabanga, Camarines Sur on Thursday (April 5, 2018). When the revisors opened the ballot boxes, they found the ballots wet and unreadable, the same as what was discovered in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal where the contested votes for Vice President are now being scrutinized.

Today, April 6, 2018, the revisors opened the ballot boxes for Naga City, the bailiwick of Leni Robredo, and found the ballots in the same condition: wet and unreadable. More than that, the revisors found cut grass inside the ballot boxes, a clear indication that these were opened by unauthorized persons and stuffed with it.

These ballot boxes from the third district of Camarines Sur will be dispatched to the PET upon the conclusion of the HRET manual recount for the protest of Villafuerte. These ballots will join what is now a procession of wet ballots from Camarines Sur.

The pattern is much too obvious to be attributed to a fluke of nature (rain water penetrating the ballot boxes). It can’t be coincidence. It is becoming clear that the soaking of the ballots was done systematically with one purpose in mind: to cover up the crime of cheating.

As if that wasn’t enough, the revisors found the ballots from the Naga City boxes NEATLY STACKED and ORGANIZED along with other paraphernalia. Everybody knows that ballots are inserted into the VCM and then dropped inside the boxes in random order, and finding them organized and stacked neatly is evidence that these have been tampered.

Interestingly, Bordado belonged to the Liberal Party. He was vice mayor of Naga City who decided to do battle with the veteran Villafuerte. It was a David versus Goliath match. But it appears Goliath was no match for the “well-oiled machinery” that Leni unleashed in Camarines Sur.

The evil deeds of the Liberal Party cheating machine didn’t take too long to be uncovered. Robredo’s lawyer, Atty. Romulo Macalintal, has a lot of explaining to do. Is wet the standard or norm for Camarines Sur balloting? This is a pattern, and cheating is written all over the place.