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                                                                                                           Ms. Ronadale Zapata


05 January 2006

The election lawyers of Vice President of Noli
‘Kabayan’ De Castro denounced the apparent tampering of ballot boxes and their ballots in several precincts of Lapu Lapu City, which form part of the election protest of Loren Legarda in the Province of Cebu, although the said irregularity was not done in connection with the said protest but for pending election protests involving other positions in the local level.

Reacting on the report of his revisors at the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), which is conducting the revision and recount of the ballots protested by Legarda, Atty. Armando Marcelo said that he would also ask the COMELEC to immediately conduct the investigation on how and why such irregularities could occur in the said areas.

De Castro’s lawyers headed by Romulo B. Macalintal, Armando Marcelo, Alberto Agra and Carlo Vistan said that revisors discovered that several ballots of Legarda had been substituted with fake and spurious ballots although the physical count of the ballots for De Castro and Legarda correctly tallied with the Election Returns (ERs) and the tally boards.

Macalintal, however, explained that this circumstance of having the same votes as per physical count of ballots and the votes in the returns and tally board would only indicate that the tampering was not done in connection with the Legarda protest but was made in connection with other positions with pending electoral protest. In a resolution of the Supreme Court, the PET was given priority to first conduct revision of ballots in areas, which are also covered by other protests involving other elective positions.

The substitution of ballots was so clear, that the security markings of the substitute ballots are not reflected or visible or that the ultra violet markings of the COMELEC seal do not appear or are not present.

These ultra violet markings are readily visible in a
genuine ballot once lighted with an ultraviolet light, Macalintal said.

De Castro’s camp clarified that records show that almost 7,700 ballot boxes from the Province of Cebu
were collected by the PET upon motion of Legarda in connection with her protest. The collection of these ballot boxes were all done under the strict control and supervision of the personnel of the PET with both De Castro and Legarda authorized to send their respective watchers and representatives during the retrieval of these ballot boxes.

The PET has already completed the revision and recount of the ballots from Mandaue City covering 771 precincts and no apparent irregularities or sign of ballot box tampering had been discovered, Macalintal said.

The City of Lapu Lapu involves 692 precincts and as of press time, only ballots of about forty (40) precincts had been recounted where four (4) precincts revealed the existence of the said tampered ballots or substitute spurious ballots.

The fact that the said tampering or substitution of ballots was not done in connection with the Legarda protest is shown by the fact that the actual count of ballots cast for Legarda and De Castro correctly tallied with their respective votes as reflected in the election returns and the tally boards.

Macalintal said that in such a case or when the ballot box had been tampered with, the rule is that the results of the election from such precincts shall be based on the votes obtained by the candidates as recorded in the election returns and the tally boards, hence, the said incident will not adversely affect the votes credited to De Castro upon proclamation.

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