June 6, 2023

During the 2016 elections, an “election operator” visited me and said that not only can he make losing candidates win but also make winning candidates lose if the price was right.
I nearly fell off my chair when he quoted an amount which was staggering and left it at that because in the first place, I did not have the moolah and more so because if I won or lost, it should be in a fair and square fight, thus nothing more was said about it.
The incident now comes to mind as the elections is just around the corner and we have the same Smartmatic-Precinct Count Optical Scan automatic electoral system. With the same scenario, the clear and present danger remains.
I have kept my peace but up to this moment, people wonder what or how it happened. I am no sourgrape so I just shrugged it off as part of the game. For the first and last time, I will present my take on the matter based on my perception of the events with no malice intended nor excuses offered.
Eversince, I had a voting base averaging 20,000 to 25,000 for a one-on-one post. In my council run, I got more than 54,000 votes. Our camp analyzed that even if only 50 percent would cast their lot on me, I will still get a minimum of 22,000 votes. Add my party’s solid minimum of 10,000 votes and more than 2,000 gratitude votes from land title awardees during my incumbency as committee on lands chair, the projection was 30,000. The selection by the Iglesia ni Cristo was a bonus of another 10,000 and things were bright.
Since there were at least three “strong” contenders, a candidate only needed a small plurality minimum of 28,000 to win. Thus, we thought, the win was all in the bag, only to find out that the thought was wrong.
We relied on the integrity of the process to have clean elections and neither I nor the other candidates were present during the initialization of the vote counting-machines (VCM) at the City Treasurer’s Office. Not one of us had personal knowledge on whether or not the VCMs initial count was at zero, as I supposed it was. Tragic as it may seem and in hindsight, our neglect was part of the cause.
Prior to the elections, the then director of the Philippine National Police visited the Comelec warehouse. Were the SD cards manipulated? Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon chided him for the action.
On election day, like a thief in the night, the VCM performed its magic. Surprisingly, in less than 10 minutes after the polls ended, his ally posted on his Facebook account the results of a purported quick count. In his excitement he posted a precinct result where the scores were all the same with seven other precincts. It was over but the shouting.
The unbelievable results showed a win in all precincts except for one or two. A “newbie” in politics who had no political base, grassroots or otherwise to speak of, “beating” veterans in their own bailiwicks, followers, and supporters votes strangely wiped out.
Media spoke of a win in 112 out of 128 barangays, while we shared the balance of 16. The results were statistically improbable. Like the other candidates, I even scored zero in one barangay. Does that mean that I did not have a single vote from a friend, family or INC member in the area?
A month before, I distributed 89 land titles and not one cast a thank you vote for the land they fought for 30 years or more? Mathematically improbable.
Even solid votes from ethnic communities in Pinget, Upper and Lower Quirino Hill, San Vicente, Irisan, Asin, Camp 8, Poliwes, and Bontoc Village went puff. A day after, there was a rally by students of the University of the Philippines Baguio and three other colleges “condemning the cheating in the elections of the city.”
I therefore rest my case.
Of course, every possible means was used to derail my quest, including disqualification by the Comelec on the alleged use of an old certificate of candidacy form. Good thing a status quo ante order was granted by the Supreme Court through Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin so I continued, yet was “damaged goods” as the foes took turns using it as propaganda.
There must be a God somewhere and what foiled the supposed almost perfect plan was having been the chosen one by the influential Iglesia. Simply stated, if the votes were that overwhelming, then he, not I should have been chosen.
You do not need to be a scientist to read between the lines to see the import of the message.
So, the challenge now is winning fairly in 2022.
Unfortunately, my pessimism says the same scenario would repeat itself, unless one does what the Romans do. As for me, pass na muna… not running…not worth it.

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