‘The mystery of the wrapped ballots’–an election story
The news item’s headline, “Bataan poll protest case may provide evidence of fraud at local level” (News, 8/12/15), could very well have been a definitive statement: “Bataan poll protest provided evidence of fraud at the local level.”
It was not just me but netizens as well who saw the photos of the uniformly wrapped ballots inside 78 of 80 ballot boxes in Dinalupihan, Bataan; and we have concluded that they were evidence of an elaborate operation to cover up the “hocus PCOS” in the 2013 elections. On the first day of the manual counting ordered by the Commission on Elections, five bundles of these wrapped ballots from Barangays Kataasan, J.C. Payumo and Tucop were not found inside their boxes but in shelves inside the office of the municipal election officer!
We have rightly concluded that the PCOS were either programmed or hacked. Why, indeed, the need for a cover-up if the PCOS were not programmed or hacked? Why have they not simply allowed the opening of the ballots to be manually counted? The manual count would have matched the PCOS count, not only for the mayoralty but for all other positions as well, from congressman down to the councilors. But in the unofficial tally for these other positions, the variances in percentage ran into double-digit figures. The PCOS machines were supposed to be 99.995 percent accurate or to be allowed only .005 percent variance or one error per 20,000 marks.
But having said this, I do not think the higher management of Smartmatic was involved. It makes its big bucks from the sale of PCOS machines, not by getting itself enmeshed in local politics. It needs that like it needs a hole in the head. Nor do I think that the Comelec’s higher management, especially the members of the commission, was involved. It has enough problems fending off charges of bias in favor of Smartmatic.
Besides, it was the Comelec en banc that ordered the opening of the ballot boxes for manual count, a proper decision within the Comelec’s jurisdiction, which unfortunately was reversed by the Supreme Court. More likely, the culprits were rogue techies from outside of or inside Smartmatic and the Comelec. The brown paper wrapper bore the seal and other marks of the Comelec!
Since the teachers assigned in the precincts have all denied they had anything to do with the wrapped ballots, the “mystery of the wrapped ballots” has spawned jokes about automatic wrapping machines or resident elves busily doing the wrapping chore inside the ballot boxes.
Since the Supreme Court has, in effect, dismissed the protest for being time-barred but way after the manual count has been concluded, and the evidence of fraud had been unearthed in the presence of the wrapped ballots found inside the ballot boxes, the townspeople are now asking if they should rewrap the ballots, put them back in the ballot boxes, lock and seal the boxes along with their lips, so that they will stop talking about the “mystery of the wrapped ballots,” and pretend that what they saw was just a bad dream!
—FELICITO C. PAYUMO, former congressman, First District, Bataan
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