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UNA backs Tingting on digital poll fraud

The opposition on Monday supported allegations by the President’s aunt and former Tarlac governor Margarita Cojuangco, that Aquino administration officials had perpetrated digital fraud in the 2013 elections and were spending P30 million to cover it up. A spokesman for the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), JV Bautista, said the digital cheating exposed by Cojuangco was part of a “grand design” by the ruling Liberal Party to “neutralize non-LP bets” in the local and national elections. But LP spokesman and House Deputy Majority Leader Miro Quimbo of Marikina branded Cojuangco’s charges as “ridiculous, old hat, reckless and baloney.” “That’s an old tune. It’s sadthat there are political stalwarts of other parties who would make such reckless accusations without any evidentiary basis,” Quimbo told the Manila Standard. Bautista said UNA has documented incidents of poll-related fraud and harassment cases against local opposition bets, who were known rivals of candidates of the Liberals, in Zamboanga del Norte. “There are also complaints filed by local watchdogs with regard the systematic manipulation of election results favoring candidates of the LP in Regions 3, 4, 6, 7 and NCR,” Bautista said, confirming Cojuangco’s charges. Worthy Acosta, co-convenor of Cojuangco’s Isang Boto Isang Bansa, said one of the findings of their probe was that cheating was rampant nationwide, not just in Mindanao as in previous elections. The Liberals had won 110 House seats in the recent polls. The LP’s number grew to 120 when urncoats joined them shortly after the opening of the 16th Congress. Cojuangco, who ran but lost under the banner of UNA, said Vice President Jejomar Binay’s party was not aware of the nationwide probe that she and her electoral watchdog had conducted in the past months. Cojuangco said she had evidence to prove that the digital cheating and massive electoral fraud were committed by the Aquino administration to benefit the Team PNoy and the Liberals. “Such statements only serve to weaken our democracy because they want to foment doubt in our electoral processes,” Quimbo said. Bautista said the “digital cheating” is now the subject of most of the complaints filed before the Commission on Elections. He added that the revelation made by Cojuangco that Malacanang released P30 million from its intelligence fund to “clean up and cover up” election fraud is a serious charge that Comelec cannot just ignore. In an interview with Manila Standard and its sister company The Journal last week, Cojuangco said the P30 million was used to print about 8 million extra ballots to replace the true ballots and match those reflected in the “revised” final count in the Comelec Web site. “Sometime in June, the Holy Family Printing Corp.—one of the suppliers of the National Printing Office (NPO)—was reported to have been printing extra official ballots a month after the elections,” Bautista said. “For that to be believable is absurd. You mean to say, 30 million ballots were replaced and fed and counted to thousands of machines?” Quimbo countered. Bautista chided Quimbo for accusing Cojuangco of destroying democracy when she was simply telling the truth. “The Liberal Party cannot handle the truth. What are they hiding? How can they dismiss these charges as ridiculous and baloney right away?” Bautista said. Bautista challenged the Comelec to stop stonewalling and to finally give an unqualified and conclusive response to the documented cases of electoral irregularities surrounding the May 2013 elections. Bautista said that until now the Comelec has not given any clear and definitive answers to the many complaints and issues in connection with the May 2013 elections. “The Comelec has never bothered to provide an honest-to-goodness response to the conduct of elections, the discrepancies in the final count, the 60-30-10 pattern, the technical glitches and other digital mysteries. The people are still waiting for their official report in the last elections and I hope the Comelec will not give the public any reason to doubt the results of the elections,” said Bautista, in a press statement. Quimbo played down UNA’s challenge, saying the rival party never made it an issue after the polls. Even the surveys confirmed the 9-3 result in favor of Team Pnoy, he added. “The people have spoken through the ballot and they have affirmed their votes when none of them accepted any of these insinuations after the canvassing,” the LP party whip said. Following Cojuangco’s expose, Bautista urged Congress to immediately convene the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee to conduct a post-election assessment covering the 2013 elections. With  Joel E. Zurbano    
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