Home » Opinion » Poli-views » Electoral fraud

Electoral fraud

by Francis N. Tolentino

As the May, 2018, Barangay Election slowly closes in, the familiar Filipino election “blues” also begin to set in. The usual preparations, I believe, are well underway for both aspiring public servants and their electorate. Voting and counting will be manually done, and as early as now, candidates prepare themselves in full battle gear, so to speak, to safeguard their votes against election fraud and manipulation.

Only last week, in a speech he delivered before the Senate, Senator Vicente Sotto III divulged critical information on the alleged poll anomaly during the 2016 National Elections. Senator Sotto cited specific data, which he said came from an “impeccably reliable source” that revealed transmission of votes as early as May 8, 2016, and extended until May 9, even before the official commencement of polls. The senator said early transmission of votes were discovered in some polling areas such as in the Municipality of Angono in the Province of Rizal as traced from the IP address or transmission codes used to forward the votes to the Consolidated Canvassing System of the aforementioned town.

Mentioned as an example was the case of Senator Panfilo Lacson who had zero votes in the early transmission that allegedly happened the day before the 2016 national polls. This author was also identified as one of the candidates whose name appeared in the irregular transmission with similar zero votes as Senator Lacson and other candidates.

This particular exposè by Senator Sotto points to the fact that poll irregularities of this type and magnitude should not be ignored or brushed aside. I am not supporting the call for a deeper and extensive inquiry on this issue just for the reason that I have a pending case in the Senate Electoral Tribunal against former DoJ Secretary Leila de Lima. Over and above anyone’s personal interest is the interest of the Filipino people whose right to suffrage was manipulated to favor a few and deprive others whose only intent in running for public office was to initiate meaningful reforms in the bureaucracy and affirm the will of the people. Belittling the revelations of Senator Sotto will only intensify doubts on the integrity of next year’s elections.

From a more positive standpoint, this revelation of Senator Sotto may likewise strengthen vigilance on the part of the electorate. Having known that such irregularities have occurred, and may occur, the people will cast more critical eyes on our poll systems and processes and demand greater transparency and accuracy. Our Filipino electorate has transformed from the traditional type to the free, informed, and responsible kind. It is about time that the same transformation be pursued for the entirety of the Philippine polling system.