SC asked: Make Comelec fulfill vote-recount ruling

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Comelec is breaking its promise to recount selected presidential and VP ballots in Election 2022.

The poll body on Nov. 29, 2023 decided to recount presidential and VP votes. One to five ballot boxes are to be opened in each of 17 regions. It aimed to debunk once and for all allegations of election fraud.

The Comelec chairman and six commissioners announced more. Foremost critics – former DICT secretary Eliseo Rio, ex-Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman, former FINEX president Franklin Ysaac – are to pick the ballot boxes. They need not spend the usual multimillion pesos for national protests; Comelec will pick up the tab. So ordered.

Present at the en banc hearing were retired colonel Leonardo Odoño, another critic backed by 125 ex-generals. As well, reps of Venezuelan firm Smartmatic, Comelec’s electronic system supplier in five past elections.

Rio, Lagman and Ysaac wrote Comelec on Jan. 19 and Feb. 12, 2024. They offered a simpler way. Recount only in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, an hour’s drive from Comelec’s head office in Intramuros, Manila. The trio will pick 30 boxes to be opened out of 153. Comelec will spend nothing; the recount has been more than paid for.

Comelec’s reply: silence.

The trio on April 30 petitioned the Supreme Court for mandamus: compel Comelec to be true to its word.

Rio, Lagman and Ysaac chose Sto. Tomas because of its mysterious mayoralty votes. The incumbent vice mayor and two councilors lost to a political tyro even in their bailiwick home-barangays and precincts. The four rivals got identical sets of votes in all precincts (https://tinyurl.com/Sto-Tomas-Mayoralty).

Nearly all precinct results were transmitted by an illegal private IP address Rio called it a “man-in-the-middle manipulator.”

Very similar to what the trio discovered in the presidential votes in Metro Manila and VP votes in Manila City. The five top presidential contenders also got identical vote sets in 10,462 precincts (https://tinyurl.com/NCR-Presidential).

Same with the four top VP candidates in 1,846 Manila precincts (https://tinyurl.com/Manila-VP).

Ninety-nine percent of Metro Manila precinct results, and 98 percent of Manila City’s, came from IP Chairman Garcia claimed that the IP address is from Globe. But Comelec’s website shows no such address from Globe or Smart.

The trio also doubted the national results. Over 20 million votes for president and VP, 36.8 percent of ballots cast, poured in within an hour from precinct closing, the first ever in Philippine elections.

Another first: the presidential and VP winners got more votes than the top senator. Statistically improbable, critics said, since voters may choose only one president and VP, but opt for the most popular senatorial bet.

The three Sto. Tomas losers want a mayoralty recount. They’ve each paid P11,000 protest fee and P100,000 recount fee; total: P333,000. Recounting will cost P1,500 per precinct or P45,000 for the 30 precincts that Rio, Lagman and Isaac will select.

Sto. Tomas’ 153 ballot boxes are in the city treasurer’s custody in a public school. Supporters of the three protesters are guarding it.

*      *      *

Smartmatic rejoinder to my column, “Four VP rivals also got identical votes in Manila,” May 3, 2024 (edited for space; note that sender didn’t mention my resource person, former secretary Eliseo Rio):

“I am Smartmatic spokesman Atty. Christian Robert Lim, former Comelec commissioner, 2011-2018.

“(1) Cherry-picking ‘evidence’. The individuals you cited assert that the identical votes received by VP candidates at some polling stations constitute irrefutable proof of fraud. That’s conspiratorial thinking. They selectively chose results that support their biases, while ignoring the broader body of data that validates the legitimacy of results.

“The notion that identical vote counts in a few precincts indicate fraud is flawed. It doesn’t consider the context and nature of overall vote distribution. Isolated statistical patterns shouldn’t be interpreted as manipulation. The Law of Large Numbers can explain these as normal.

“(2) There were 1,859 Manila precincts. Even the largest number of precincts showing identical votes for a candidate, i.e. 34 for Willie Ong, is just 1.82 percent of all precincts. Such small percentage isn’t statistically significant, nor does it serve as proof of fraud.

“The VP race was national. These numbers should be compared against all precincts nationwide, not just Manila. Identical results in 34 precincts nationwide constitute only 0.032 percent of all precincts.

“(3) Coincidence is expected, not an anomaly. With 1,859 precincts, it’s plausible for a candidate to receive 21 votes in 1.13 percent of the precincts, 18 votes in 0.97 percent of precincts, and so on.

“(4) You accused Smartmatic of programming and installing the SD cards ‘behind closed doors.’ In truth, the election process, including configuring SD Cards, was by Comelec with no Smartmatic involvement.

“(5) Besides all conspiracy theories on SD cards, modems and IP addresses, there’s a simple and powerful Random Manual Audit. The RMA by Comelec, PPCRV and Lente yielded 99.9-percent accuracy. Meaning, the sum of paper ballots coincided with election returns and with ERs published online. If manipulation and ‘man-in-the-middle’ interference were real, why were the results left intact?”

*      *      *

To which Rio rebuts:

“Why don’t they just recount selected ballots as Comelec promised? Spokesman Lim was present when the en banc disqualified Smartmatic from future elections and agreed to do recount. So just do it.”

*      *      *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8 to 10 a.m., dwIZ (882-AM).

Follow me on Facebook: https://tinyurl.com/Jarius-Bondoc

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