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.

Robredo’s lie exposed: There is no Comelec resolution allowing 25% shading

Where on earth did Leni Robredo get the idea that 25% shading of the oval constitutes a valid vote?

Robredo, through her lawyers, appealed to the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to reconsider its ruling to annul votes counted for her if the shading on the oval across her name failed to meet the 50% threshold, which was set by Comelec itself for the May 10, 2010 elections through Resolution No. 8804 promulgated on March 22, 2010.

Did the Comelec ever entertain the idea of partial shading below 50%? In Resolution No. 10113 promulgated on May 3, 2016, the Comelec stated expressly that: “The intent of the voters is expressing by fully shading the oval beside the name of the candidate. This is consistent with the instruction provided on the face of the ballot on how to vote.” The photo below shows particular section on the appreciation of ballots:

 

Comelec Resolution Shading Ballots

There is no Comelec Resolution or guideline allowing 25% shading as valid vote. This is what Comelec Resolution No. 10113 promulgated on May 3, 2016 states.

The PET rightly turned down the motion of Robredo to reduce the threshold of the shading to 25%. An estimated 5,000 votes in favor of Robredo have been nullified during the first two weeks of the manual recount as a result of the PET’s ruling that the threshold level should be 50% as stipulated in Resolution No. 8804 dated March 22, 2010 (See RULE 15, Section 6, paragraph “l” shown below).

Screenshot 2018-04-19 14.36.44

Robredo’s lawyer anchor their claim that Comelec allowed a 25% threshold of shading in Minute Resolution No. 16-600 adopted by the Comelec En Banc on September 6, 2016, or four months after the conduct of the elections. What does this resolution say? This resolution was adopted AFTER Senator Bongbong Marcos had already filed his Electoral Protest at this time based on massive cheating. What it did was “adopt and confirm” the memorandum dated September 6, 2016 — submitted on the same day — by Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia, Oversight Commissioner for the Random Manual Audit. It had no force of law.

Letter to PET

And it’s worthwhile examining this memorandum of Commissioner Guia submitted on September 6, 2016, and subsequently adopted and confirmed by the Commission En Banc. Commissioner Guia acknowledged that Comelec guidelines require that voters shade the oval FULLY, but added that the system was designed to read oval shading of “about 25%” as a valid vote. What is the basis of this? It was Smartmatic that did this without authority from the Comelec on Guia’s flimsy excuse that this guaranteed the right to suffrage of voters is not impaired.

Question: Can Smartmatic override the law? Apparently no, which is the reason why the Supreme Court rejected Robredo’s motion to reconsider those votes that were nullified for failure to meet the 50% threshold.

Now these documents deserve deeper investigation. Was this part of the grand cheating scheme of the Liberal Party as carried out by then Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista? For me, it is. We have to keep in mind the elections were over and done, and all that remained to be done was a manual recount of the ballots. Bautista changed the rules of the game after the final horn had sounded, obviously to make sure insufficiently shaded ballots for Robredo would be counted in her favor.

 

Supreme Court rules: De Lima’s arrest legal

The issue of legality over the arrest of former DOJ Secretary and Senator Leila de Lima has finally been settled by the Supreme Court when it dismissed her motion for reconsideration last Tuesday, April 17, 2018. It means De Lima can no longer play the card of being a victim of persecution (the way she abused her own power when she was DOJ Secretary). She will now have to face the charges against her in a full-blown trial.

Leila de Lima

Photo credit: Jansen Romero/Manila Bulletin

Indeed, even just the frequent visits of De Lima to the National Bilibid Prisons where she partied with convicted drug lords should have been enough to jail her. There was no justification for such closeness with hardened criminals. It lends credence to the allegations that she collected money from the drug lords, thereby making her a party to the illegal drugs trade.

I am appalled the Liberal Party politicians found nothing wrong with such behavior. Well, I guess rubbing elbows with criminals was the norm during their stay in power. The Supreme Court ruling makes De Lima no different from other arrested individuals facing trial, and it’s time the trial courts order her transfer to an ordinary jail.

We must keep in mind that the charges filed against De Lima aren’t political in nature. These involve illegal drugs. She must be incarcerated in the Muntinlupa City jail where other persons facing the same cases are detained. It’s time she doesn’t get special treatment.

 

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.

 

Robredo victory was a Plan B for Liberal Party to retake power

Former Comelec chairman Andy Bautista is now a fugitive from justice.

That’s because a warrant of arrest was issued against him by the Senate committee on banks, financial institutions and currencies for failure to appear before it to answer questions about his questionable deposits with Luzon Development Bank.

From the looks of it, Bautista, who is believed to have masterminded the massive election manipulations through the Vote Counting Machines on May 9, 2016, is not coming home to face the music.

With the discovery since Monday of glaring signs of tampering with the contested ballots in Camarines Sur in the electoral protest of former Senator Bongbong Marcos, Bautista knows he is headed to jail once he comes home.

andres-bautista-election-2016

Photo credit: Philippine Star

The cheating is his legacy to the Liberal Party. He made sure that Leni Robredo would win, by a hairline, against Marcos, and put her in the next line of succession to President Rodrigo Duterte. And just to put icing on the cake, Bautista also manipulated the results to place Senator Franklin Drilon as the topnotcher among the senatorial winners. It prepared the groundwork for Robredo assuming to the Presidency, and Drilon to become Vice President in the event Pres. Duterte is removed from office (however it would be accomplished.).

It was Plan B of the Liberal Party after it became certain that Mar Roxas would lose to Pres. Duterte. There was no way cheating could overcome the lead of Duterte over Roxas. The LP switched to Plan B to make sure Robredo would be in striking distance of the Palace.

The Senate committee should now seek the issuance of a freeze order on all deposits in the name of Bautista, not only with Luzon Development Bank, but with all other banks in the country.

At the very least, he should not be allowed to enjoy the fruits of his evil. This qualifies as one of the highest crimes a public official can commit — defrauding the elections for tons of bribe money.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), for its part, should also wake up from its self-imposed slumber and issue clarifications on the issues that have erupted. For instance, Comelec should make a statement on the following:

  • Are the ballot boxes susceptible to water leaks, presuming the story spun by Atty. Romy Macalintal about a storm having gone through Camarines Sur is true?
  • Where were these ballot boxes stored? Who had access to them?
  • When the Presidential Election Tribunal directed that all ballot boxes be transmitted to the Supreme Court, doesn’t this include all the appurtenances like audit logs?

The camp of Robredo is now resorting to age-old squid tactics to cloud the issue and deflect the public attention from the emerging evidence of massive cheating. No time must be wasted by the PET, not even after four chairpersons of revision committees resigned on the third day of the counting.

This piece of news, by the way, was just given minor — very minor — treatment by the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It landed as a “Newsbrief” and buried deep inside its pages. PDI story on resignationIsn’t this development — four revision committees quitting — is big news. At the least, it should have landed on page one of the PDI, and statements obtained from the camps of Robredo and Marcos.

It happened just like that: they quit. That’s after they had to undergo a very thorough process of selecting them. What this means is that the number of revision committees that will continue the work will be short by four. That will translate to a slower manual recount.

Now, it doesn’t need a rocket scientist to figure out who would benefit from a delay in the recount.

Ballots stay dry, unless intentionally doused with water

So it didn’t take long before the first evidence of tampering and cheating emerged when the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), began the arduous task of manually recounting the ballots cast in the May 9, 2016 elections for Vice President.

As revealed by former Senator Bongbong Marcos, the ballots from four clustered precincts in Bato, Camarines Sur were found wet and damaged, useless for purposes of examining the actual shadings made on the names of individual candidates. The soaking of the ballots in water is a classic cheating tactic to render them unreadable. Whoever did that definitely wanted to hide the truth.

The 40 revision committees that dived into the task of manually opening each ballot box and counting the votes as they could visually ascertain from the face of the ballots also discovered that in 38 ballot boxes, the audit logs that contained information about when the voting started, the times ballots were inserted into the PCOS machine, and the time the voting ended were missing.

Audit logs are part of the safeguards built into each machine to ensure each and every activity that transpires could be retrieved and examined. This is particularly important because in the electoral contest between Marcos and Robredo, the tide of the counting changed overnight with so-called late transmissions inundating the tabulation boards and giving Leni the hairline margin of 263,473 votes when it ended.

From a 900,000 lead that Marcos enjoyed late into the night of May 9, 2018, this was wiped out the next day, with Robredo first gaining the lead with 8,000, and slowly increased to the final margin of 263,473 votes that became the basis of her proclamation as winner for the vice presidential race.

Camarines Sur is the home province of Robredo. It means that the custodians of the ballot boxes during the last two years were vulnerable to the influence of her camp. These facts — wet ballots and missing audit logs — are already sure-fire proof that there was tampering of the election results.

The manual counting continues to take place today at the Supreme Court. This undertaking is being conducted every day from Monday to Friday during office hours.

Jing Jing Espinosa faces ‘delayed’ prison sentence

 

A conviction for frustrated murder on Monica barangay kagawad Jesus “Jing Jing” Espinosa Jr. had long been affirmed by both the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court, but because of the topsy-turvy files at the temporary quarters of Regional Trial Court Branch 31 in September 2012 at the De Paul College campus, the case records were buried out of sight.

And it was only during an inventory of cases conducted by RTC Branch 31 that court personnel discovered the case folders remanded by the Court of Appeals for implementation of the decision handed down by then RTC Branch 31 presiding judge Rene Hortillo imposing a prison term for Espinosa.jing jing gets ready to rule iloilo city

“By the time we found the case folders containing the decision of the Court of Appeals and order from the Supreme Court affirming the conviction, Judge Hortillo had already retired, and we could not proceed with the case,” a court official told The Daily Guardian over the weekend.

The official said it was only recently that RTC Branch 34 Presiding Judge Yolanda Panaguiton-Gavino was designated as acting Presiding Judge, and she is expected to report to her assigned sala in Branch 31 today, Monday, September 26, 2016.

“This case will be among the first to be taken up with Judge Gavino,” the official said.

She added that under court rules and procedures, Judge Gavino will issue a warrant of arrest against Espinosa and his companion, Robinito “Bord” Malaga, for them to be put to jail and serve the penalty for frustrated murder.

the-daily-guardian-front-page-sept-26-2016Espinosa and Malaga were found guilty for shooting and seriously wounding Mark Serra, a resident of Barangay Monica, at around midnight on November 24, 2002. A third accused, Cris Rudy Balidiong, died during the pendency of the case.

Espinosa was meted a prison term of six months and one day of prision correccional as minimum to eight years and one day of prison mayor as maximum. Malaga was sentenced to a more severe prison term of eight years and one day of prision mayor as minimum to 14 years, 8 months and one day of reclusion temporal as maximum.

Case records show that Serra was walking towards home from a dance hall in Barangay Concepcion that night when he passed by a foot walk where he saw Balidiong, Espinosa and Malaga standing on both sides.

Just as Serra passed by the three, Balidiong just shot him without provocation.

Although wounded, Serra was able to run away, during which time he saw Espinosa and Malaga emerging from the shadows with hand guns and firing at him but missed.

Both Espinosa and Malaga gave chase, their guns firing. Serra was hit on the left shoulder and right side of his back, court records show.

It was only when Serra reached the house of his first cousin that his attackers fled.

Serra was rushed to the Iloilo Mission Hospital where he had to undergo an operation to save his life.

In convicting Espinosa and Malaga, then RTC Branch 31 Presiding Judge Hortillo said there was no way Serra could not have identified his attackers, as he lived in the barangay, and the area where the attack took place was lighted.

In his decision dated June 20, 2005, Hortillo swept aside the defense of denial put up by the accused and pronounced them guilty of frustrated murder.

However, Espinosa filed a motion for reconsideration on the ground that the trial court failed to give weight to the PNP Crime Laboratory report showing that he was negative for powder burns.

In an amended order, Hortillo reduced the penalty for Espinosa as an accomplice in the crime.

Espinosa filed an appeal before the Court of Appeals which upheld the ruling of Hortillo on July 14, 2008. He then filed a petition for review with the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court denied the appeal on May 30, 2011. An entry of judgment declaring the decision final and executory was made on October 24, 2011.

The markings on the case records show that these were sent by registered mail by the Court of Appeals on August 23, 2012 to RTC Branch 31 which had by then moved to its temporary sala at the De Paul College campus.

The Department of Public Works and Highways declared the Hall of Justice unsafe for occupancy and undertook refurbishing works to improve the structural integrity of the building.

The case records were marked “Received” by RTC Branch 31 on September 7, 2012.

The records also indicate that Espinosa’s counsel at the time, the late Atty. Felipe Macahilig, received a copy of the decisions at around the same time.

But the chaotic condition of the files at the temporary Hall of Justice led to the misplacement of the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court records.

During the whole month of July this year, RTC Branch 31 personnel conducted an inventory of cases along with the rest of the judiciary and it was only then that the oversight on the enforcement of the decision was discovered.

All the courts and other agencies that held office at the Hall of Justice were ordered to evacuate from the Hall of Justice on February 25, 2012 after a strong earthquake caused cracks on its walls and floors.

This is the second prison sentence to be imposed on Espinosa.

In 1995, he was also convicted for the murder of a deaf-mute in Barangay Monica. He was sentence to serve an indeterminate sentence of 10 years and one day as minimum to 17 years and four months as maximum.

He was released from the Bilibid prison after serving the minimum prison sentence.

 

 

ICC a monumental fraud using DAP funds – Mejorada

Phase I ICC

PRESS RELEASE

The Supreme Court ruling upholding the unconstitutionality of the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) sets the stage for the prosecution of Senate President Franklin Drilon for deliberately pushing for “augmentation” in the hundreds of millions of pesos for a project that wasn’t on the General Appropriations Act (GAA), former Iloilo provincial administrator Manuel Mejorada said.

In a statement following the announcement of the SC ruling, Mejorada said the Iloilo Convention Center was a project of the Department of Tourism (DOT) through the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) using the latter’s corporate funds.

Describing the ICC as “a monumental fraud”, Mejorada said Drilon used his clout and influence to secure the release of P300 million in DAP funds for phase I of the project despite his knowledge that there was no item in the GAA for 2012 and 2013 to augment in the first place.

Mejorada said the SC ruling strengthens his plunder case against Drilon for being the proponent of the release of P300 million in DAP funds for the ICC.

On January 26, Mejorada submitted to the Ombudsman his reply-affidavit to refute the “lame excuses” given by Drilon and his co-respondents in his complaint for plunder, malversation of public funds, perjury, dishonesty and grave misconduct.

“There’s no more dispute that Drilon is the proponent for the release of the DAP funds as he had admitted it during the Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on the issue last Nov. 13,” Mejorada said.

He expressed confidence that the Ombudsman will find probable cause and indict Drilon, DPWH secretary Rogelio Singson, DOT secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr., TIEZA chief Mark Lapid, DPWH Usecs Romeo Momo and Jaime Pacanan, DPWH regional director Edilberto Tayao and BAC chairman Marily Celiz.

Mejorada said the ICC is riddled with violations of RA 9184 and other laws, including RA 8974 that governs the acquisition of private property for right-of-way and sites for infrastructure projects.

“The number one violation is the Deed of Donation (between Megaworld and DOT) over the 1.7-hectare property on which the ICC is being constructed,” he said.

He said the implementing rules and regulations for RA 8974 stipulates that donations of land for ROW and sites for government infrastructure projects should be unconditional.

In the Deed of Donation, Megaworld required DOT to use the property as site for a convention center and allocate P200 million to build the same. It also imposed the condition that DOT use its proposed conceptual design for the project.

Mejorada insisted that the Deed of Donation set the funding parameters for the ICC.

“It is crystal clear that Megaworld had calculated it would cost DOT only P200 million to build the ICC based on the proposed conceptual design it provided,” Mejorada said.

Mejorada also pointed out that the architectural firm of William V. Coscolluela and Associates, did not have a contract to serve as consultant for the DOT. Because of this, it had no legal personality to prepare the building plans for the government and review the technical bid proposal of Hilmarc’s, he added.

One of the most serious breaches of the government procurement reform law was the admission of Coscolluela that he allowed Hilmarc’s to revise its value engineering proposal after it was submitted to DOT for review and approval, he said.

“This violates the pass/fail criteria in RA 9184 because proposals cannot be revised, altered or revised once these are submitted to the procuring entity for evaluation,” he said.

Mejorada reiterated his motion filed with the Ombudsman to place Singson, Jimenez and the other public respondents under preventive suspension while the preliminary investigation of the case is on-going. (30)

A national disaster

With the Supreme Court ruling unanimously that the Development Acceleration Program of the Aquino administration is “unconstitutional”, Malacanang spokespersons had a tough time trying to deflect the public anger and demands for the resignation of DBM Secretary Butch Abad.
We did nothing wrong,” said Communications Secretary Sonny Coloma. His deputy, Edwin Lacierda, tried to soften the impact of the ruling by saying that DAP may have been declared “unconstitutional”, but “not illegal”.
But the public anger isn’t about to die down. In fact, it’s turning out to be a wildfire that is burning out of control. The Aquino government is under siege from the people, and every word that comes out from its spokes persons only succeed in fueling the fire, like gasoline used to douse it.
in Iloilo City, lawyers ridiculed Lacierda. Atty. Dan Cartagena asked this question: “Where did Lacierda get his law degree?” His post drew a long thread of unkind words from his brethren in the legal profession. 

In my own column, “Coffeebreak”, I wrote that this caused the death of decency in our government. That perception is reinforced by the stubborn refusal of Mr. Aquino and his key aides in even just admitting they had done wrong. The pressure is building up on Abad to resign. Even an administration ally, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, said Abad should resign.

What is happening is a national disaster. We now have a government trying to plug the sieves as the ship is sinking fast.

The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

The Supreme Court as the final arbiter and savior

This is a perfect situation where the system for checks and balance was put into place. The Executive and the Legislative have corroborated (to use a milder term than “conspired”) to tweak the budget process and allow them to abuse and misuse public funds. True, the people have a role to play in rectifying the wrongs, but the system is so corrupted that the voice of the people is rendered out of tune. The electoral ballot, the only weapon ordinary citizens have to bring about change, has been debased by vote-buying fed by this abuse of the system. Hence, in this situation, only the Judiciary stands as the institution capable of saving the nation.