Wednesday, May 26, 2010

‘Whiners who cry fraud deserve to lose’ - Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — Losing candidates who cry fraud and claim to have received offers to cheat in the May 10 automated polls “do not deserve to be elected” for not reporting the cases immediately, according to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s former election lawyer.

Romulo Macalintal, who defended Ms Arroyo against fraud allegations in the 2004 elections, Tuesday described as “impossible” stories of fraud attempts now coming out in Congress.

He scolded the complainants for their “sins of omission” for reporting the cases only after they lost.

“You really deserve to lose the elections if that’s what you did. You do not deserve to be elected. You do not have the right to say that you are looking after the welfare of our nation,” Macalintal said.

“Because if you have concern for our country, that would have been what you did—have them arrested,” he said.

Macalintal did not identify the losers, but those crying fraud and alleging offers from poll cheats included Surigao del Norte Rep. Ace Barbers, Laguna Gov. Teresita Lazaro, Quezon City Rep. Matias Defensor and Sulu Rep. Munir Arbison.


Parañaque Rep. Roilo Golez Tuesday said not all statements of fraud allegations coming out in the House hearing were substantial.

Golez, who won his reelection bid, said during the hearing that he was concerned that the formal inquiry had been beset with statements of hearsay rather than of personal knowledge.

He cited the statements of lawyer Homobono Adaza that he had talked to a person who told him about a supposed offer to rig the elections for P1 billion.

Golez said he preferred that the stories be told in their entirety and not left hanging. Anybody who says somebody told him something should name the person, he added.

“If a story could not be completed, it should not be started at all,” he said.


But Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said it was not hearsay for Adaza to say that he had talked to a person and to ask that that person be summoned to the House hearing.

Macalintal said candidates alleging offers of machine-switching or electronic vote manipulation might well have been victims of scams by syndicates pretending to have the means and connections to cheat in their favor for hefty fees.

“It’s a good thing they did not pay up. If there were some who did, they are stupid. They were just duped,” Macalintal told reporters at a Church-organized forum in Intramuros, Manila.

“I do not believe that there was such switching of PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines or of memory cards. Could you imagine the phenomenon of doing that in every precinct? There could be a pandemonium of sorts. It is impossible that those syndicates could have done that,” he said.

The candidates should have arranged entrapment operations to catch the syndicates, Macalintal said. That would have been “the best opportunity” for them to do good for the nation, he added.

“But what did they do? They go to Congress and when asked who came to them, they’ll say, ‘I don’t know, I already forgot the number.’ My God, this is a very, very important matter and then you lose the number?” he said.

IT experts

Macalintal also decried IT (information technology) experts coming forward with their own theories about how PCOS machines and memory cards could have been cheated.

During the same forum, one such expert, Roberto Verzola of Halalang Marangal, claimed that the discrepancies in transmitted data and election returns spotted last week by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) indicated that there was a “malicious code” in the PCOS machines that automatically shaves or pads votes for certain candidates.

The PPCRV, however, said the discrepancies were too small to cause concern. Results from 29 precincts of more than 43,000 precincts showed differences in transmitted and printed results.

Can’t be proven

“These types of alleged cheating cannot be proven by anyone who calls himself an IT expert. No IT expert could prove the alleged fraud in this election,” Macalintal said, adding that experts had no evidence to back their claims.

Macalintal said that proving fraud could only be done through a manual ballot count, though he saw no basis to conduct one yet as the validation of election results had yet to uncover major discrepancies. (Tarra Quismundo. With a report from Leila Salaverria)


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