PARTY-LIST group Confederation of Non-Stocks Savings and Loan Associations Inc. (CONSLA) is not accepting the “connectivity issues” offered by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Responsible Voting (PPCRV) to justify the 342,082 discrepancy in the number of votes it received in last May 9 elections.
In a statement, CONSLA lawyer Jose Emmanuel G. Hernandez said PPCRV’s explanations recently given to the media with regard to its complaint have failed to address the issue on the alleged vote manipulation, but stirred more questions that would warrant an immediate investigation by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Hernandez said PPCRV’s admission of its failure to monitor errors during its quick count operations makes it necessary and urgent for the poll body to commence with its own investigation.
“At the very least, PPCRV should be held accountable for its admitted lapses. It should be banned from participating in future election quick count operations. Its admissions show how poor its internal controls are; that its actions only further muddled and heightened voters’ skepticism whether the nation really had clean, credible and honest elections,” CONSLA said.
Hernandez was referring to newspaper and other media reports quoting PPCRV Communications and Media Director Ana de Villa Singson and chairman, Amb. Henrietta de Villa blaming “connectivity issues” for the supposed error in the results projected on its screen.
While PPCRV has yet to formally respond to CONSLA’s complaint, Hernandez pointed out that it was the first time that PPCRV mentioned encountering problems about connectivity during their conduct of the quick count.
The lawyer added that prior to CONSLA’s filing of the complaint, PPCRV never issued any advisories to those affected party list groups or to the public regarding such problems.
Likewise, the group noted that based on the screenshots provided by its witnesses the PPCRV maintained the erroneous results for several days from the commencement of the quick count.
In its complaint submitted to the PPCRV, CONSLA noted that during the initial hours of the PPCRV’s quick count on May 9 it already secured 342,513 votes.
The next day, the party-list group claimed that their votes increased to 523,753 at 11 a.m. and to 555,896 by 12 noon to occupy rank 14 in the tally.
The said results, which were sourced from the transparency server provided by the Comelec, were posted in the Twitter feeds of the PPCRV.
However, based on the Comelec’s final tally for party-list groups, CONSLA only garnered a total of 213,814 votes.
Hernandez said it does not make sense why the alleged connectivity issues only affected CONSLA and not the other party-list groups.
If it did affect other groups, Hernandez asked who were these party-list groups and why were they also affected.
“Ms. Singson’s and Amb. De Villa’s explanation, based on the news reports, is disturbing especially in light of PPCRV’s own statements congratulating themselves regarding the speed and accuracy(?) of the quick count which it now acknowledges to be beset with inaccuracies and ‘issues’,” Hernandez argued.
Aside from the connectivity issue, Singson blamed the error to having a lot of volunteers, which made it difficult for them to control and monitor those being posted on its screen.
Singson added that they immediately worked on correcting the figures being projected on the screen by doing some adjustments to the script of the party-list election tally.
Hernandez, however, said PPCRV’s attempt to steer the blame on discrepancy in its votes on the number of volunteers it had and the changing of the “script”, raised more questions than answers.
“Who these volunteers were, what their exact responsibilities were in the change and manipulation of the results for CONSLA, why there were changes, and whether these personalities and PPCRV were authorized to change the scripts in the first place,” Hernandez asked.
“If the foregoing statement is true, why did the Comelec authorize changes in the script? Who authorized the changes from Comelec’s end? If the changes were unauthorized, shouldn’t be these people be held accountable? More questions come to mind as we ponder the PPCRV’s admissions,” the lawyer said.
On the other hand, Hernandez argued that PPCRV’s excuse that what it did was only a quick count and that the Comelec’s tally is the official contradicts the very purpose for which the quick count and PPCRV exists.
“It may be seen as a tacit admission that the quick count serves no other purpose but to confuse the people about the results of the elections. It is an admission by PPCRV that it is not the vanguard against vote manipulation or cheating in the elections,” the group lamented.