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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.

 

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‘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.

Is Binay making a break-away?

Two national newspapers, The Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star, reported on a Pulse Asia presidential survey conducted on December 4-11, 2015 showing that Vice President Jojo Binay has regained the lead among the contenders to become the next President of the Republic.

The survey was done nationwide with 1,800 respondents. It showed that if elections were held during the survey period, Binay would get 33% of the people’s vote.

Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Senator Grace Poe were statistically tied at second place, with Duterte getting 23% and Poe, 21%.

The administration’s candidate, Mar Roxas, was fourth with 17%. Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago rounded up the field with 4% of the projected vote.

This survey result validates my blog post last week that Binay has hit rock bottom while Roxas has hit the ceiling. Binay can’t possibly sink lower than the 31% he previously obtained while Roxas would have a hard time rising above 15%. The 2% improvement he achieved isn’t going to make a difference as the race is about to formally start on February 9, 2016.

This makes the efforts of the administration to eliminate the leading contenders through disqualification futile. Even if Poe and Duterte are disqualified, Binay would remain in the race because he cannot be charged formally before the Sandiganbayan on account of his immunity from suit. This means the idea of dislodging Binay by locking him up in jail before the elections is wishful thinking.

Roxas cannot hope to attract the Poe and Duterte votes if and when these two are eliminated from the presidential derby. A minimum of 80% of the Poe and Duterte votes will shift to Binay. What we’re seeing is a national expression of disapproval for Roxas, and there’s no way it would change in the home stretch.

This is the fundamental mistake in the political strategy of the administration. Roxas could not win by destroying his rivals before the court of public opinion and through legal means. The Liberal Party was overpowered by its own arrogance and believing its own propaganda that the “matuwid na daan” was making people happy.

The only way for Roxas to win under the circumstances is change the rules to “pirdi-gana”, a term used in the Filipino game of “dama” where the losing side in the end will emerge as winner.

The way things are going, the PCOS would not even be able to salvage a victory for him, because when the lead is so big, cheating would only spark violence and unrest for the nation.

But of course we can never underestimate Roxas and the Liberal Party: They might sacrifice the nation for their own personal ambition and survival.

Varnished

(Coffeebreak, December 15, 2015)

Mar Roxas has a simple game plan in his bid to become the next President of the Republic of the Philippines: varnish his image with artificial gloss and eliminate his rivals through a host of legal maneuvers.

We’ve already seen Roxas lift a sack of rice. Also garlic. He tried his hand at being a firefighter and a traffic aide under the rain. He played the role of an ice carver, and even posed on a block of ice lying on his side for photographers. He pedaled a pedicab. And the list is growing longer and longer.

But these are cheap gimmicks that only boomeranged on Roxas the moment pictures came out on social media. Much as he tried to mimic the acts of ordinary Filipinos who have to endure backbreaking work to survive, there is simply no way Roxas could pass for one. That he was born rich, and never had to wonder where his next meal would come from, was glaring from the onset of such efforts.

These last few days, Roxas was again under fire in social media.

This time, he came under heavy criticism for labeling himself as a “Wharton graduate” in his curriculum vitae. It was another deceitful claim to add luster to his name, which had struggled to rise past the 15% mark in survey after survey.

While it was not entirely false, it was a misrepresentation. That’s because “Wharton graduates” in the layman’s understanding refer to those who have obtained their MBAs from this prestigious school in the University of Pennsylvannia.

Roxas earned his undergraduate degree from Wharton-UPenn without distinction. It was an education that his wealthy status made possible for him. Of course, he had to study hard to complete the baccalaureate degree. However, it didn’t give him a distinction that MBAs from this college are accorded with respect and admiration.

Wharton alumni always accompany its name with the extension, “UPenn.” But in the case of Roxas, he merely put Wharton as his alma mater, giving the impression that he finished his MBA there.

The Wharton MBA program is considered one of the premier training grounds for corporate executives, almost at par with the Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business. Yale and Northwestern University have similar programs that are regarded as topnotch.

That’s why a Wharton MBA is given a premium when it appears on a young corporate upstart’s curriculum vitae. It is regarded as a badge of distinction. It is a symbol of an individual’s capability to analyze complex problems and provide leadership in any organization.

It is not to denigrate the undergraduate program at Wharton. But in the scheme of things, a holder of a bachelor’s degree from Wharton can never be placed in the same platform. In experience, training and leadership capability, the Wharton MBA will be two or three notches above a B.S. degree holder.

I can’t blame Roxas though for trying to sneak this through.

He needs to shellac his image as he enters the home stretch of the presidential race. The official campaign period for national candidates won’t kick off until February 9, 2016, but the contenders for the presidency have been barnstorming around the country for months now. And yet, Roxas remains a poor third or fourth in the surveys. His ratings have hit the ceiling at 15%.

Nothing seems to work for Roxas.

His endorser, President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, had hoped Roxas’s numbers would rise after he raised the Liberal Party’s standard bearer last September 30. Since then, Roxas has tapped celebrity endorsements, including a music video featuring the talents of ABS-CBN. Roxas has also the backing of congressmen, governors and mayors.

Despite all these efforts to catapult Roxas to the front of the race, he struggles to rise above his current survey rating of only 15%. In a manner of speaking, he has hit the ceiling. He continues to eat the dust of Davao City mayor Digong Duterte, Senator Grace Poe and even the battle-scarred Vice President Jojo Binay.

Clearly, Roxas has a serious problem. How can he expect to become President when he can’t even come close enough to winning against his opponents? With less than one-fourth of the projected votes, he can’t even be regarded as a serious contender.

Of course there’s the elimination game ala “trip to Jerusalem” that the Liberal Party is playing. There’s a good chance Senator Grace Poe might be disqualified. Duterte, too, will face the same troubles. And knowing the LP’s determination to ram through its effort to win the Presidency for Roxas by hook or by crook, Duterte’s being swept aside from the race is not remote.

The scenario that’s being set should leave Roxas standing alone in the ring.

But wait, there’s still Binay. After a whole year of bashing and harassing the brown-skinned man from Makati City hasn’t been knocked down. In fact, Binay remains ahead of Roxas in the surveys — way ahead.

This presents a tough problem for Roxas: if the LP succeeds in eliminating Poe and Duterte, it can’t just get rid of Binay. That’s because the scenario calls for Binay being thrown in jail. And Binay enjoys immunity from suit. He can’t be charged criminally until after June 30, 2016.

In short, Binay’s name will remain a contender for the Presidency on May 16, 2016. He has 31% of the projected vote if elections are held today. If Poe and Duterte and DQ’d, I can bet most of their votes will go for Binay. It’s not because people don’t believe Binay is corrupt; but Filipinos believe Roxas will make a worse President than Mr. Aquino.

From a rock-bottom of 31%, Binay has the potential to rise above the 51% mark on election day to win majority of the votes cast. Roxas will be left eating more dust than he did when Binay beat him for the Vice Presidency in 2010.

It becomes clear that no matter how coats of shellac or varnish Roxas puts on his name, he still won’t be able to remove the people’s dislike for him. He can spray himself with all the best known deodorizers, but the rotten smell of a bad President simply won’t disappear.