Low turnout of Migrante votes very improbable Vote-shaving, disenfranchisement, Hocus PCOS aimed to benefit Aquino clique

 As the national canvassing for partylist votes resumed, Migrante Partylist declared that its very low turnout of votes in the mid-term elections is “very improbable”.

Migrante Partylist attributes the very low turnout to massive vote-shaving, disenfranchisement especially in overseas absentee voting and irregularities in the automated electoral system.

 “Zero votes” in bulwarks

Migrante Partylist exposed incidents of vote-shaving in precincts, cities and provinces where its members, affiliates and allied organizations are located.

“As early as the precinct-level counting, we have received calls from our pollwatchers and OFWs complaining that votes for Migrante were not counted because most precincts registered ‘zero votes’ for our partylist. Some of the OFWs were crying, they were incredulous,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Partylist chairperson and first nominee.

Bragas-Regalado cited, for instance, the turnout of votes in Binan, Laguna where Migrante Partylist has at least 2,500 card-bearing members who are all registered voters but they only got over a hundred votes. “It’s incredible, it’s unbelievable. After a few days of evaluation of the turnout, we have come to the conclusion of this trend in our strongholds. Iyong mismong NCR coordinator namin, zero ang lumabas na boto sa mismong presinto niya.”

 It’s ironic and a bit funny but even our ‘enemies’ are incredulous,” she said, recounting how even recruitment agencies and government officials in the DFA, POEA and OWWA here and abroad have expressed disbelief in the low turnout.

Bragas-Regalado said that their pollwatchers were prevented from disputing the results because only LP and PPRCV pollwatchers were allowed in the precinct and municipal canvassing.

In NCR, Tau Gamma Phi chapters who committed bloc voting for Migrante Partylist also complained of zero or single-digit votes in their respective precincts. Tau Gamma is the fraternity of OFW on death row Dondon Lanuza whose commutation of sentence has been campaigned by Migrante for the past decade.

She also cited instances of vote-shaving in the transmission of votes from municipal to provincial levels. “We have also recorded instances of votes being shaved once transmitted from municipal to provincial level. Maliit na nga ang nabibilang, nababawasan pa.”

Bragas-Regalado cited the turnout in Malvar, Batangas – Migrante Partylist registered 33 votes in the precinct level, but only 14 votes were registered at the provincial level of canvassing. “Iyong sa precinct level, supposedly incomplete pa iyon, sa mga presinto lang na nabantayan namin. Pagdating sa final tally in the provincial level papaanong bumaba pa? We are waiting to see if votes will also be shaved when transmitted to the NBOC. These instances are rampant in our bulwarks in Southern Tagalog, Central Luzon and Metro Manila.”

For votes for Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casino, Bragas-Regalado said that they have also recorded cases wherein Casino’s votes were “much, much lower, lower by 50 percent even” to the votes for one progressive partylist in the precinct level.

“This in itself is statistically improbable. Simple logic dictates that Casino’s votes should be at least close if not higher to the sum of all votes for all Makabayan-partylists per polling precinct. For him to get half of the votes of just one progressive partylist is simply unheard of,” Bragas-Regalado said.

Migrante Partylist is one of the nine partylists in the Makabayan coalition, the other partylists namely, Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, ACT Teachers, Piston, Akap-Bata and Katribu.

 Hocus PCOS

Bragas-Regalado said that they are in the process of compiling all vote-shaving anomalies and will submit corresponding complaints to the Comelec and election watchdogs.

She said, however, that transparency and check-and-balance in the register and transmission of votes had been deemed unverifiable by the Comelec because of “Hocus PCOS”.

“How can we now verify the integrity of the turnout when the Comelec is insistent in its hard-stance that the results of the mid-term elections are credible despite everything? It continues to reject calls for a source code review or a parallel manual count. Ang siste, kung anumang Hocus PCOS sa nagdaang eleksyon, Comelec at Smartmatic lang ang may alam.”

Low turnout of overseas absentee voting

Bragas-Regalado also slammed the Comelec for “lamenting” the low voter turnout for the overseas absentee voting (OAV) when it did nothing to address OAV problems prior to and at the start of the OAV period.

“When the OAV started last April 13, we have already brought to the Comelec’s attention areas of concern that could disenfranchise and widely affect the OAV turnout. May ginawa ba ang Comelec?” she said.

Among the problems raised were PCOS-related problems, the delay in the arrival of ballots via post, the lack of guidelines for OAVs in areas where consulates and embassies were closed down and the inaccessibility of polling places. She added that up to the last day of the OAV until canvassing, they have received a steady stream of complaints from abroad.

In the Riyadh and Jeddah, KSA, for instance, voters and pollwatchers from the “tent cities” were prohibited from entering PH posts. The two cities are among the top areas where most OAVs are registered, with the Middle East as the most vote-rich OAV region in the world.

In Hong Kong, Migrante pollwatchers have also exposed that they found unused CF cards with pre-recorded votes in the polling precinct, as well as an unprecedented 20-minute blackout (a first in Hong Kong) and PCOS machines that failed and had to have their CF cards replaced.

Vote-padding for pseudo-OFW partylist?

Bragas-Regalado also raised suspicion with the involvement of one of the nominees of another OFW partylist group in the operation of PCOS machines in the 2010 elections.

Juan ‘Johnny’ Revilla, project manager of Placewell Manpower, a recruitment agency contracted by the Commission on Elections to man PCOS machines in the 2010 elections, is the second nominee of partylist OFW Family Club. Revilla’s recruitment agency was one of three companies that won the contract from Smartmatic-TIM to supply 50,000 IT technicians responsible for operating 82,000 PCOS machines in the May 10¸ 2010 presidential elections.

OFW Family is one of the front-runners in the partylist race. Among the top 10 partylists, OFW Family is the only partylist that is running for the first time in the 2013 elections. All other front-runners are incumbent partylists in the 15th Congress.

“We raise serious and grave concern over Revilla’s links to Smartmatic amid various reports and allegations of PCOS-related fraud, cheating, discrepancies and anomalies in the 2013 elections. Both the Comelec OFW Family Club have some explaining to do since Revilla’s links to Smartmatic is clearly a conflict of interest.”

“He was the person mainly in charge of the operating the PCOS machines in 2010. He knows the ins and outs of the system. This is a very serious matter, especially now that Smartmatic’s systems remain in question due to technical and transparency issues in the election results,” she said.

Bragas-Regalado also said that it is interesting to note that Revilla was not included in the original list of nominees submitted by OFW Family Club when it was accredited by the Comelec to run in the mid-term elections. “Of its first three nominees, only the first nominee was retained. The rest was changed.”

OFW Family Club’s original second nominee was Roy M. Seneres, Jr, son of its first nominee former ambassador Roy V. Seneres, Sr. “When did they change their list of nominees and why?” she said. She also pointed out that in the group’s official website, Revilla’s profile does not state his connections with Placewell or his role in the 2010 elections.

Placewell Manpower is one of the most notorious recruitment agencies involved in countless cases of illegal recruitment, contract substitution and other contract violations against OFWs.

Who’s afraid of progressive candidates?

Bragas-Regalado stressed, “Who has the most to gain in Hocus PCOS or in the Comelec’s hard-stance refusal to acknowledge irregularities and implement safeguard measures? The actual results and subsequent developments further exposing anomalies in the AES point only to one major beneficiary, the Aquino ruling clique.”

She said that the results – a questionable 60-30-10 outcome for the senatorial race and a partylist turnout that does not allow additional seats in Congress for progressive partylists – is indicative of attempts to discredit progressive candidates. “Interestingly, the results are coincidental to reported cases of AFP- and Malacanang-initiated red-baiting against progressive candidates.”

“Unfortunately for the Aquino regime, progressive candidates in the recently-concluded mid-term elections are part of a broader pro-people mass movement that have proven in their track records years and years of genuine public service and upholding of people’s interests, may eleksyon man o wala. Kaya tuloy pa rin ang laban sa mga kontra-mamamayang patakaran ng pamahalaang ito.

Bragas-Regalado said that the apparent pre-programmed results of the 2013 mid-term elections have only further established how elections in the Philippines is an instrument to consolidate the ruling clique to further advance its own political interests.

“It has confirmed up to what blatant extent the Aquino ruling clique is capable of in utilizing state machinery to secure its political and economic agenda until 2016 and beyond. The present political make-up of government is a cause for alarm – we now have an Aquino-dominated Senate, Congress and Supreme Court. In terms of policies and governance, wala tayong maaasahang pagbabago.

Migrante Partylist and Migrante International called on overseas Filipino workers, their families and migrant advocates to condemn in strongest terms blatant electoral fraud and disenfranchisement of marginalized sectors and to continue to be vigilant and oppose the Aquino administration’s anti-people policies. ###