The Long View: Alarming numbers

Alarming numbers

By Manuel L. Quezon III
First Posted 01:14am (Mla time) 05/14/2007

MANILA, Philippines – Over the weekend, Newsbreak published online an article outlining how fraud is expected to take place starting today. The article (“Cheats Adjust Style for Monday Polls,” by Miriam Grace A. Go, viewable online at index.php) outlines the 2004 tricks that will not be repeated this year:

The use of pre-accomplished election returns (ERs) that were switched for the genuine ones before the municipal canvassing began.

The use of extra certificates of canvass that tampered with actual provincial tallies.

The article also points out the 2004 tricks that will be used again this year:

Wide-scale operations only in “friendly” cities and provinces.

An unusually high voter turnout in these areas.

The buying out, if necessary, of the opposition’s poll watchers.

And a new trick:

Precinct-based cheating will involve teachers, who, as election inspectors, will be tasked to misread the candidates’ names in the ballots.

Newsbreak enumerated the provinces that were at the heart of the effort to rig the 2004 elections, and reported this: “An operator said that the administration targets to achieve for each TU candidate a margin of at least 100,000 (votes) over the opposition candidates in the 11 provinces mentioned in the 2005 Newsbreak report. That amounts to a total of at least 1.1 million additional votes per candidate. Bigger margins can be expected in big, solid-voting provinces like Cebu, Pampanga, Bohol and Iloilo.”

Bearing this in mind, there are curious figures that appear in the electoral map ( Take note of the provinces identified by Newsbreak as marred by allegations of cheating in 2004, and then compare the 2007 official Comelec voter registration figures in those places with the 2004 figures. Our population grows at, say, 2.5 percent a year; my rule of thumb is any municipality with a voter population increase of over 10 percent deserves scrutiny.

In the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Shariff Kabunsuan (marked with green icons in the map), the number of voters increased by over 20 percent. In Guimaras, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (marked with blue icons in the map), the number of voters increased from 11 percent to 20 percent.

Everywhere else in the country, there was a 0 percent to 10 percent increase in voter population, except in North Cotobato, Maguindanao and the National Capitol Region, where the number of voters actually decreased.

Opposition-sympathetic areas or bailiwicks in the NCR suddenly have fewer voters: Quezon City by 12.20 percent; Manila, 6.06 percent; Makati, 1.18 percent; Pasig, 10.27 percent; Pasay, 8.29 percent; Taguig-Pateros, 11.02 percent; San Juan, 3.97 percent; Malabon-Navotas, by a whopping 56.88 percent! On the other hand, Mandaluyong, Marikina and Muntinlupa have a higher number of registered voters.

In Cebu: Dumanjug has 24.67 percent more; Poro, 15.11 percent; Aloquinsan, 14.83 percent; Pinamungajan, 12.77 percent; Oslob, 11.79 percent; Malabuyoc, 10.50 percent.

In Pampanga: Sasmuan has 47.59 percent more; Mexico, San Fernando, Apalit, each has 11 percent more. In Iloilo, Miag-ao has 9.23 percent more. In Negros Occidental:Talisay City has 14.94 percent more. In Bohol: Dauis has 15.36 percent more; Panglao, 18.80 percent; Trinidad, 30.6 percent. In Southern Leyte: Hinundayan has 11.12 percent more; Padre Burgos, 12.29 percent.

In Zamboanga del Sur: Josefina has 13.46 percent more; Tabina, 13.52 percent; Labangan, 14.14 percent. In Maguindanao: Cotabato City (which isn’t part of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) has fewer voters by 37.42 percent; Buluan’s voting population also dropped by 42.06 percent; but Datu Paglas has 12.52 percent more; so do Datu Saudi Ampatuan (17.78 percent), Datu Abdullah Sanki (19.23 percent), Shariff Aguak (19.83 percent), Datu Unsay (27.63 percent), Paglat (43.05 percent) and South Upi (72.70 percent).

In Lanao del Sur: Buadiposo-Buntong has 120.40 percent more(!); Mulondo, 73.91 percent(!); Tamparan, 66.21 percent(!); Taraka, 51.12 percent(!); Bubong, 49.56 percent(!). In Sultan Kudarat, there’s nothing remarkable. In Basilan: Tuburan’s voter population decreased by 69.27 percent; and Tipo-Tipo’s by 54.94 percent; but there is an increase of 20.95 percent in Maluso, 18.66 percent in Sumisip and 17.40 percent in Lantawan.

The Newsbreak report also says that both administration and opposition political sources point to additional provinces where “special operations” in favor of the ruling coalition could take place: “These are Camarines Sur (the stronghold of Kampi president Rep. Luis Villafuerte), Eastern Samar (where TU assistant campaign manager Ben Evardone is governor), Ilocos Sur (where TU candidate Luis Singson is governor), Surigao del Sur (where TU candidate Prospero Pichay is congressman), Bukidnon (where TU candidate Miguel Zubiri is congressman and his father is governor), and Batangas (where Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is kingmaker).”

In Camarines Sur, for example, there are 10 municipalities where the number of voters increased by more than 10 percent. As the report says, “The estimate of 100,000-vote margin per candidate per province is consistent with the figures given by another operator, who said that depending on the voters’ population of the provinces involved, operators could work out a maximum of two million additional votes for a candidate in 20 provinces. That’s an average of 100,000 extra votes per province.”

So bear in mind in the coming days: In your area, did the increase in the number of voters reflect real population growth? How many people do you know got to vote, or didn’t? And did the canvassing proceed cleanly?

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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