Saturday, March 6, 2010

PPCRV counsel’s office ransacked: ‘Zombie voters’ evidence stolen in break-in


Original Story:

There appears to be a concerted effort from some groups to ensure that the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s final but unpurged voters list that is filled with double, multiple and dead voters stays unpurged.

This was made evident after the law office of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) counsel, Howard Calleja, was broken in Thursday in between 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday.

The only rooms that were “disturbed,” Calleja said, were the conference Room, the Evidence Room and Calleja’s personal office.

In a brief interview with Calleja yesterday, he told the Tribune that while doing a quick check, he realized that which was clearly missing and taken by the “thieves” was the list PPCRV had made of the double and multiple registrants, along with the dead voters.

The PPCRV list, a source told the Tribune was a product of painstaking work, matching the double and multiple and “zombie” voters with their claimed barangays which when submitted to the Comelec, would have made it easy for the poll body to purge these zombie voters.

There were also extrapolations made to cover the number of zombie voters, the sources said, adding that these studies and list of the PPCRV would not have to wait for the watchlist which the Comelec says it is preparing.

But the source also claimed that Comelec does not have the claimed “watchlist.”

Calleja, in a statement issued Friday, said: “Early this morning, March 5, 2010, Friday, I was informed that there was a break-in in my law office located at Pasig City, Metro Manila.

“According to the security report of the building, when the guards checked the office at 10:03 pm, March 4, 2010 (Thursday), the same was confirmed locked. However, when they checked again at around 1:18am, March 5, the office was unlocked and apparently had been opened. It appears that unknown and unauthorized individuals entered the same between 10 pm to 1 am.

“Our personnel and staff have checked the CCTV cameras of the building but the CCTV cameras cover only elevator areas. The corridor leading to the office is not covered (by the cameras). Hence, the images from these cameras offer very little information as to the identify of the individuals responsible for the break-in.

“It appears that the conference room, the evidence room and my personal office were the only rooms disturbed. The majority of the documents in the evidence room and the conference room relate to the PCVL (Posted Computerized Voters List) that we are randomly checking.

“Currently, the office is doing an inventory of our files and would prepare a statement and accounting thereof at the proper time.”

Sources told the Tribune that what Calleja isn’t saying is that earlier, he had been receiving death threats allegedly from a son-in law of a high ranking City Hall official in Davao City.

“Those threats have only one message: ‘Don’t mess around with the voters list’ but this threat is not being taken seriously by Howie (Calleja),” the sources said.

Another source said the bigger suspects in this break in, “are the members of the Comelec cheating syndicate,” adding that the syndicate will be using the excess ballots, since the voters’ list is padded with double and multiple registrants, to cheat their candidates’ way through to victory.”

It also appears that the Comelec has not been making it easy for the PPCRV to do its work of checking things out to ensure that clean and honest elections take place in May.

A source close to Calleja told the Tribune yesterday, on condition of anonymity, that PPCRV, already an accredited poll watchdog, that even when it asks for documents related to their line of work from the poll body, the watchdog is made to wait an inordinately long time for these documents to be given to them.

“There is very little cooperation being given to the PCCRV,” the source stressed.

The source added that things were made even harder for the PPCRV by the Comelec officers and officials after the Tribune broke the story of the zombie voters found in Davao City and Davao Sur, amounting to some 40 thousand double, multiple and dead voters.

“Obviously, the syndicate at the Comelec doesn’t want any media attention as this would make its operations more difficult,” the source stressed.

Asked what this break-in and the loss of evidence of the zombie voters list PPCRV had compiled meant, Calleja said in the brief telephone interview that it just means more work for the PPCRV and more delays in recompiling the list of zombie voters.

“We have the Comelec’s final list in the hard drive (of the computer).”

But what was lost, by way of “evidence” was the list of names of the zombie voters that were already segregated from the final listing of the Comelec.

The problem there appears to be time delays. With that list worked on by the PPCRV stolen, this would mean more time to redo the list of zombie voters, which means yet another delay for the watchdog.

It will be recalled that Comelec’s Executive Director Tolentino, backed up by Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, told the congressional panel hearing just a few days ago that the poll body can no longer purge the voters list and that only the courts can decide on the exclusion proceedings— position which did not sit well with the congressional panel members, pointing out that it is the mandate of the Comelec to cancel the names of the zombie registrants.

The fact that there is evidence presented to prove that the voter is a double or multiple registrant is enough basis for the Comelec to exclude them, this being an administrative matter, it was pointed out.

It will also be recalled that the PPCRV bared that 40,000 “zombie” voters that are registered voters and are found in the entire Region Xl, including Davao City with the watchdog saying that it expects to unearth more double, multiple and dead registrants in other regions in the country following the discovery of 40,000 flying voters in Davao City and Davao del Sur.

“What we discovered in Davao City at Davao del Sur is only the tip of the iceberg. We would like to see and find out for ourselves as the reports would come in from our volunteers. We heard reports of more of this in the ARMM (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao), in the Visayas and in Luzon,” Calleja, PPCRV legal counsel then told the media.

According to Calleja if the 40,000 multiple registrations will be multiplied to the some 80 provinces in the country this would result in having three to four million flying voters.

“That can be a deciding factor not only for the local but, of course, for the national if the numbers hit millions,” he stressed.

According to Speaker Prospero Nograles, he has received reports that an election syndicate is behind the duplicated registrations and other fraud involving the the registration voters.

Nograles said he is also baffled to discover that while the Comelec seemed to have overlooked the double registration of more 9,000 residents in Davao City, among them the sister of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Jocelyn who is running for Congress, his son Sebastian and six other relatives, the names of some 13,000 newly registered voters suddenly disappeared.

“This alone is questionable because most of the 13,000 Davao City voters who have been disenfranchised by the Comelec are my supporters and are legitimate voters of Davao City. On the other hand, the Comelec overlooked the double registration of prominent names like the Dutertes. How can this happen?” Nograles said.

Nograles added that apart from registration padding, another possible area where dagdag bawas (vote padding and shaving) can take place is during the transmission of votes itself.

“The dagdag bawas might happen during the transmission stage. To date, Comelec has not made public the clustering of precincts and this is really worrying some sectors that are working very hard to make this 2010 elections clean,” Nograles said.

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