Grace Poe wants electorate to learn from 2004 cheating in CebuIt’s good that Grace Poe, daughter of the late Fernando Poe, Jr and Susan Roces, brought up the issue of cheating during the 2004 elections in Cebu in the meeting of Team PNoy in that province last Wednesday.
The people should be reminded of that again and again because no one has been punished for that crime against the Filipino electorate.
Gloria Arroyo is out on bail for the crime of electoral fraud but it’s in connection with the 2007 elections, when she was not a candidate. That case is so weak, it would not be a surprise if Arroyo gets acquitted in that case.
Arroyo cheated big time in 2004 but the crime of electoral fraud was enacted only in 2007. She can be charged with the lesser crime (it’s bailable) graft but even that, it has not been done.
Poe, who is a senatorial candidate, said “This is the reason I didn’t stand on another stage in Cebu City, because it still hurts,” referring most probably to Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia and the rest of the Garcia political clan who were die-hard supporters of Gloria Arroyo.
The Cebuanos took pride in 2004 that they gave Arroyo over one million lead over FPJ which defied logic and normal practice.
In many precincts in remote barangays in Cebu, voters turnout was over 90 per cent, which is impossible. We have to remember that in 2004, Comelec was using the old list of registered voters. An almost 100 percent voters turnout means that nobody died all these years. Nobody also left for abroad? No OFW in those places?
When the FPJ camp questioned Arroyo’s record one million win, the Garcias, gloating, quipped, “Cebuanos are intelligent voters.” That condescending remark on FPJ was the recurring message of the Arroyo camp during the campaign.
How the impossible one million lead happened was explained by investigative reporter Miriam Grace Go in her article “Cheats Inc.” Which was published in Newsbreak in Sept. 2005.
Here’s the portion on the Visayas operation:
“ The wholesale switching of pre-fabricated election forms was done in a few provinces in Luzon, particularly Ilocos Sur and the Arroyo’s home province of Pampanga, and in the entire Visayas. The Visayas operation, particularly in Cebu, was considered more sophisticated because the administration effected an artificial dramatic increase of voters’ population and registered “ghost precincts.” This was to justify the lopsided share of votes that operators would enter into the prepared election forms.
“The regional and provincial election officials whose cooperation was needed for this operation were planed in to Manila and billeted either at the Aloha Hotel or at the Grand Boulevard Hotel, both along Roxas Boulevard. The ‘production line,’ sources said, was in safehouses in the target provinces.
“’Nobody would be too stupid to bring in those bulky ERs and COCs in the hotels,’ one of them said. He said that the safehouse in Cebu was rented for six months, but was occupied only from March to June 2004. The safehouse in Iloilo was located in a private subdivision.
The forgers of signatures (called ‘golden arms’) and those who thumbmarked the forms (called ‘pianistas’) were flown in from Manila, the sources said.
“ The master operator, or the one who gave direction to negotiators and bagmen, for the three regions in the Visayas, was said to be Victor Rigor, who was a liaison between Malacañang and the then Ministry of Local Government during the Marcos regime. This means that Rigor, now in his mid-50s and known in the political circle as “Blackjack,” was connected to the agency in the same years that Ronaldo Puno, Ed Soliman, and Gabriel Claudio were there. The three worked in Arroyo’s campaign, either officially or in the shadow campaign teams. Puno is a strategist closely identified with the First Gentleman, and is now congressman of Antipolo City. Soliman is an undersecretary of the Department of the Interior and Local Government. Claudio was the campaign manager of the President last year and is at present the presidential adviser on political affairs.
“ NEWSBREAK was unable to reach Rigor, but one of his operatives confirmed the information.
“ This operator said Rigor differentiates his work from cheating, which is ‘the changing of the election results.’ He said Rigor would maintain that what he does is just ‘influencing’ the outcome of the election by a vote-delivery system.
“ The Arroyo camp was confident that with the fixed votes coming mainly from the Visayas, the President would be able to win by at least one million votes. However, when the results from Poe’s bailiwicks in Luzon came in, the President’s strategists estimated that the votes could wipe out her margin from the Visayas.”
“ Dagdag-bawas was then carried out in the Muslim region and a few neighboring provinces in Mindanao.”
What happened was when the votes from Central Luzon, mostly from Pangasinan came in, it was an avalanche for FPJ. Arroyo had to call in then Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and the Filipino people got all the more screwed.
Grace Poe stressed during the rally that she was not taking it against the Cebuanos: “Hindi niyo kasalanan kundi kasalanan ng iilan.”
Electoral reforms is one of Grace Poe’s advocacies which she promised to pursue if and when she makes it to the Senate.