More votes than voters in Pasay; pre-empting Comelec’s alibi

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Speaker Sonny Belmonte doggedly is pursuing amendments to the Constitution in order to entice more job-creating foreign investors. He aims only to lift the limiting of certain industries to Filipinos: 100 percent of media, education, and real estate; 70 percent of advertising; 60 percent of utilities and mines. Filipinos lack capital to build up such industries; hence, 100 or 70 or 60 percent of zero equals zero. Meantime, foreign corrupt practices acts of their homelands are getting stricter, so foreign investors are finding it harder illegally to conceal their excess ownerships through Filipino lawyer-dummies.

It’s the legislature that sets national policy. So Belmonte suggests six amendatory words — “unless otherwise provided for by law” — to cover all the ownership restrictions. That way, like in developed lands, the Congress shall determine whether to grant entry to certain industries and investors.

The executive branch can also improve the investment climate via consistency. Often has it been pointed out that investors want predictability. They shy away from countries that alter the rules whenever a new President is elected or a Cabinet member is replaced. Take the sad case of 50 or so overseas firms that came in and paid $16-billion advanced VAT a decade ago on the government’s promise — unfulfilled to date — of refunds upon their setting up of factories. Some of them are contemplating to leave (discussed in Editor-in-Chief Ana Marie Pamintuan’s Sketches column last Monday).

Completing the triumvirate that deals with foreign investors are the local government officials. Provincial boards and municipal councils must stop the racket of welcoming foreign firms with grandiose resolutions — in exchange for millions of pesos under the table. Only companies with dubious motives would pay P2 to P20 million “entrance fee” before even making a single centavo of profit.

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Readers must distrust Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes so much. No less than eight of them wrote to forestall whatever alibi he might give for the oddity that there were more votes than voters in Election 2013. Also, for his not finishing both the precinct counting and the national canvassing.

As I reported (Gotcha, 1 July 2013), the Comelec momentarily stopped the canvassing of senatorial votes last May 18. That was when it reached, according to its website, “129 out of 304 certificates of canvass (CoCs) containing 39,898,992 votes.” The 129 CoCs comprised only 42 percent of the total 304, and No. 1 Poe already had 20,147,423 votes (50.5 percent), while No. 12 Honasan had 13,070,031 (32.8 percent).

The Comelec updated its website three weeks later on June 7, when the 175-balance, or 58 percent of the 304 CoCs, finally were tallied. Incredibly from those remaining majority of CoCs, the Top 12 as of May 18 got additional votes of only 72,000 to 195,000. Poe’s tally as of May 18, for instance, increased by only 189,904 on June 7, while Honasan’s by a mere 141,393.

The only logical inference would be that Candidates 13 to 33 got the millions of more votes from the 175 later CoCs. But they didn’t. In fact, the Comelec’s Top 12 standing as of May 18 remained the same on June 7.

So where did the millions of senatorial votes go?

The distrusting readers said that one Brillantes alibi might be that most of the voters in the 175 later CoCs had boycotted the senatorial election. That would be baloney, of course.

Another alibi could be that the 175 CoCs were those from the low-turnout advanced overseas absentee voting. Again, phooey. The Comelec had started the canvassing on May 14 with the overseas votes, like from Hong Kong and Singapore, precisely because there were no other CoCs to canvass. To recall, glitches were snagging the transmissions of results from 78,166 local precincts to the central server.

Besides, the 129 earlier CoCs consisted not only of overseas votes, but also some congressional districts, of which there are 234. Except for a handful of tiny provinces like Batanes, most congressional districts have 100,000 to 200,000 voters. Even if only half of the 175 districts (or CoCs) had an average of 150,000 voters, there would have been 13,125,000 of them in all. Had 75 percent of them turned out to vote and 50 percent voted for Poe per the May 18 trend, then her additional votes on June 7 should have been 4,921,875, and Honasan’s 32 percent increasing by 3,150,000. But then, that would make Poe’s votes total 25,069,298, or 62.83 percent of the 39,898,992 total ballots cast. That would defy the trend of recent past elections, when the topmost senator got only 51 percent or so.

So there.

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Not only were more votes than voters merely extrapolated — but actually counted — in Pasay City. That’s why several citizens, represented by columnist-lawyer Melanio “Batas” Mauricio, are questioning the proclamation of their mayor.

In a petition filed with the Comelec on June 25, the citizens asked for a manual recount in more than 300 precincts in Pasay’s 1st district. This is because more votes were credited to the four candidates for mayor than there were ballots tallied by the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) voting machines. With such statistical-mathematical impossibility, they said there was a clear failure of the local election.

The citizens zeroed in on Clustered Precincts 1 to 10, 20 to 25, 27 and 28, and 46 to 49. The PCOS machines counted only 7,547 ballots, as shown in the official statements of votes, copies of which were attached to the petition. But the number of votes credited to the four mayoralty candidates totaled a whopping 9,045.

From where did the excess of 1,858 votes — also in the PCOS — come?

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

Gotcha archives: http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA or on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com


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