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Ex-Bohol Gov. Rene Relampagos: Dagdag-bawas Victim?

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Ex-Bohol Gov. Rene Relampagos: Dagdag-bawas Victim?
« on: December 19, 2017, 01:24:06 AM »
Ex-Bohol Gov. Rene Relampagos: dagdag-bawas victim?
Published on September 9, 2007 by the Bohol Chronicle

MANILA. Former Gov. Rene Relampagos, who ran for congressman in the third district during the last elections alleged aberrations of elections results in the towns of Loay and Sierra Bullones may have altered the final result of the third congressional race.

This was the statement issued by Relampagos after documents showed of the alleged aberrations of the May 14 elections in the 3rd district in which newcomer Rep. Adam Jala, son of former Rep. Eladio Jala, was declared by the Commission on Elections as winner.

Jala garnered 65,081 votes against 62,106 votes of Relampagos.

The former governor who few weeks after the elections insinuated to bid goodbye to politics resurrected the alleged election anomaly after documents gathered revealed some irregularities which were not taken into consideration by the local election board.

Comelec Supervisor Atty. Veronico Petalcorin could not be reached for comments who was out of town when contacted last Friday. Text messages from the Chronicle failed to get reply from the Comelec official.

It maybe recalled that the young Jala has repeatedly denied fraud committed in the congressional race while saying that he left it to the Comelec to decide on some complaints raised by Relampagos shortly before he was proclaimed as the duly elected 3rd dist congressman last May.

Direct, testimonial and circumstantial data gathered by the Chronicle Research, however, seem to show that in the two towns of Sierra Bullones and Loay, Relampagos may have been a victim of the infamous "Dagdag-Bawas" method of electoral fraud.

It was noted that an unusually high percentage of the Board of Election Officers (BOE) like the Chairman, Poll Clerk and the Third Member were changed in the 3rd District compared to the two other districts. 
In Sierra Bullones alone, 51% of the Board of Election Officers were changed immediately prior to the elections with (28%) of the Chairmen, (33%) of the Poll Clerks and (75%) of the Third Member changed. In Sierra Bullones Mayor Simplicio Maestrado's barrio (Abacahan) - in 2 of the 6 precincts - the entire BOE was changed; in the remaining 4 precincts - 2 of the 3 Election Officers were changed.

Changes in the BOE are supposed to be advised to candidates so that the reasons for the changes and the qualifications of the replacements do not violate the rules of the Omnibus Election Code. These changes were reportedly not reported to the Relampagos camp.

There are fears that not just in Sierra Bullones but in other towns as well, the new BOE members may suffer disqualification for lack of qualifications.

The Election Officer of the town Fe Julita Lao, originally stationed in Corella, was re-assigned to Sierra Bullones allegedly upon request of the Mayor. (This was the second time she was re-assigned to the town of Sierra Bullones during the election period. The first one was in 2004 where there were reports that voting in some remote barrios lasted until 10 o'clock in the evening.)

(Then gubernatorial candidate Rene Relampagos did not raise a howl of protest over alleged irregularities in the 2004 polls.)

Lao, however, clarified that it is the Provincial Election Officers (Petalcorin in 2007 and Odtohan in 2004) who did the reshuffling of town election heads often during the election period. She admitted she was the 2004 and 2007 Sierra Bullones town Election Officer -citing that she did not accept the assignment in Dimiao earlier in 2007 - because she was "not familiar" with the territory.

Further, she said it was her predecessor Mario Lozano who made the changes in the composition of the BOE. Lozano told the Chronicle he could not remember if he was responsible for all the changes in the BOE. He reported back to Sierra Bullones in June - right after the May 2007 elections. Lao went to another assignment.

Sierra Bullones is reputed to be the "Maguindanao of Bohol" where no clean and free elections are held in some sitios except in the Poblacion area where candidates Jala and Relampagos had a close fight.
Notoriously known to deliver "command votes" are the 10 infamous barangays: Cahayag, Casilay, San Isidro, Abacahan, Nan-od, Cantaub, Danicorp, Magsaysay and Dusita. There are widespread reports that during election day itself, voters were "detoured" to a high-ranking town official (not the Mayor) for further "instructions."

A town representative of a PPCRV commented: "Walay pili-ay sa amo-a, sa Poblacion lang." Indeed prior to elections, the HNU Survey showed that a high 90% of those surveyed in Sierra Bullones were reluctant to voice as to "who their preference will be on election day."

The town canvass took an unusually long process - Sierra Bullones becoming the second to the last town to canvass at the Provincial Board of Canvassers. The unofficial results also kept changing for Jala while that of Relampagos allegedly remained the same. In fact, the final Jala votes are not identical as shown below:
Certificate of Votes     -  6,306
Election Returns          -  6,371
Certificate of Canvass -  6,378

Also, despite repeated requests, Relampagos said, he was given a copy of the Sierra Bullones results only after the Provincial Canvass had already ended. He said the copy he got was hardly readable and had to be reconstructed in order to make sense.

Observers noted that the town mayor and former Congressman Eladio Jala were often seen at the canvassing area conversing with Election Officer Lao.

There are allegations, likewise, that Sierra Bullones town mayor Maestrado and former Congressman Jala are partners in a printing corporation based in Manila - thus their close affiliation.
Efforts to contact Mayor Maestrado proved futile as he was reportedly in an official trip to Cebu City while his secretary accompanied Bureau of Mines personnel in a mountain area in town.

A "manifest error" cited by the Relampagos camp at the Provincial Canvassing was merely "noted" by the election officers. The illustration found elsewhere in this article clearly shows a discrepancy in the figures for Relampagos and Jala as indicated in the Certificate of Votes and the Certificate of Canvass.
Interesting to note is that both reports contain the thumbprints and signatures of the same election officers but showing different figures. The Certificate of Votes is also handwritten while the Certificate of Canvass is neatly typewritten and released immediately after the town canvass.
Some people are suspecting that the. typewritten version was prepared well before the actual counting of votes.

As a result, ex-Governor Relampagos lost 965 votes (from 4,083 votes to 3,118 votes) while Rep. Adam Jala gained an additional 481 votes (from 1,777 votes to 2,258 votes). This translates into a huge "swing" vote of 1,446 votes in favor of Rep. Jala.

Relampagos believes that even not counting the other irregularities in the other towns, the aberrations in the two towns of Sierra Bullones and Loay alone would have altered, as they did, the result of the 3rd district congressional elections.

Other forms of irregularities in the other towns included vote-buying and intimidation. Reports from Lila town showed some voters were forced to carry two sample ballots with a carbon paper.

The first sample ballot was for "co de go" to ensure proper guidance and the other would carry the proof (carbon-copied) that the voters delivered as they were paid for or threatened against.

The gentle persuasion side was reportedly P300 for the congressman and all the way up to P800 for the gubernatorial and senatorial candidates.

Candidate Relampagos who seems to have all but lost interest in the way politics is being conducted in this country, is not filing a protest due to the futility and vast expenses involved and with no clear resolution assured.

Rene Relampagos, is making these disclosures public, he said, to ensure that electoral shenanigans are not committed in the future especially with enough vigilance of a better informed citizenry.

He charged that Provincial Election Officer Petalcorin continuously and deliberately refused to sign and issue the TSN of the proceedings of the canvass and thus prevent him from filing for the annulment of Jala's proclamation. By just "noting" and not "acting" on the protests (supposedly within 48 hours) of the questioned COCs - this deprived the ex-Governor of "his due process."

Provincial EO Petalcorin could be held criminally and administratively liable for this violation, according to his lawyers.

Petalcorin, who was once a "Youth for Aumentado" leader in the past, could not be reached for comment as the Chronicle was told he was out of town by the Comelec Provincial Office.

The lessons picked up in the Chronicle Research are that intimidated "command votes", arbitrary changes of election officers without due notice to all parties, vote-buying and coercion, undue influence of the powers-that-be on election officials and the "magic" mechanism in the tally of votes resulting in "dagdag-bawas" - are aberrations that should be exterminated like termites in the next electoral process.
Those are essential in making authentic democracy work through clean suffrage. It is a requisite "first step" in making the "voice of the people" truly the "voice of God."

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Romans 10:9-10
"If you declare with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved."

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