Earth Hour

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cheating Koalas

It's been three weeks since we went to the polls for the first automated elections in our country.  Many of the winners have already been proclaimed, but many losing candidates are also claiming that they have been cheated by the very people who should have been safeguarding the sanctity of the ballots.

There were so many claims of "electronic cheating", "hocus PCOS", and computerized fraud allegedly committed by officers of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) that a Congressional probe was conducted to look into them.  At the center of the investigation are the machines and compact flash cards used in the elections which, according to some quarters, were tampered with to give fraudulent results.

The allegations reached fever pitch when a masked "whistleblower" who introduced himself as Robin claimed that he was party to an elaborate plot to cheat in the just concluded polls.

In a video presented first in a press conference and then during the hearing of the Congressional body, Robin claimed that he was part of a group that manipulated the results of the last elections by transmitting manufactured counts to the COMELEC main computers.  He added that the two leading candidates for Vice President paid more than a billion pesos just to get ahead of everybody else.  He said that the leading candidate paid better than the earlier favorite.  Why, even the Presidential race was allegedly manipulated such that the one that was supposed to win ended up near the bottom of the heap.

The Chairman of the Congressional body dubbed the whistleblower as "Koala bear" (a misnomer because koalas are not bears, they are marsupials like kangaroos) because of his mask, which was highlighted by a very large nose.  He looked more like a panda to me though.

After the initial release of the video, losing candidates from the National Capital Region all the way down to the southern part of the country emerged with stories of people approaching them to commit electoral fraud in exchange for hefty amounts.  By their accounts, one would think that the country has been invaded by "koalas" peddling their technical expertise in committing fraud during the elections.

One incumbent governor from a Southern Philippines province claimed that he was approached as early as November by a group promising to manipulate the results of the elections to ensure the victory of his entire team.  He told the body that he was asked 50 million pesos for this but he turned down the offer.  Another losing mayoralty candidate claimed that in January, an acquaintance also asked him for money in exchange for his victory in the polls.  This will be done by rigging the electronic results of the elections.  

There were other stories from losing candidates in local positions but their stories are all the same.  Just before the national elections, someone or a group of people approached them, promising them victory in the polls in exchange for a huge amount of money for their operations.

I just wonder why these people waited until they lost the elections before they revealed these anomalies.  Like that Governor from the South, as an official of his province, he should have reported it to the COMELEC or even to the police at the time he was approached. Why did he keep it to his self?

The mere fact that he was asked to give money so that they would make him win is already a crime.  It sounded like an extortion to me: give us money so you'd win, otherwise you'd lose.  And it involved the elections, for pete's sake!  He said that he only realized that the offer was true after his entire team lost.  So what happened if he won the elections?  He'd just clam up and pretend that nobody approached him six months before to ask for money which will be used for an operation that will deny the people of their will.

I agree that this losers do not deserve to win the elections.  It is now obvious that they do not have the people's welfare in mind when they run for public office.  They just want to be elected in a position and all the privileges that go with it. 

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