'No formal House probe of ER switching'

By David Dizon, abs-cbnNEWS.com

Posted at Sep 07 2011 03:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 08 2011 02:56 AM

MANILA, Philippines – An official of the House of Representatives on Wednesday said there was no formal investigation of the alleged break-in at the Batasang Pambansa to switch election returns used in the 2004 elections.

Atty. Artemio Adasa, House Secretary General for legislative operations, said reports of the alleged break-in first came out in September 2005 or more than a year after the national and local elections.

He said then House Speaker Jose de Venecia did not order a formal investigation but ordered him to inspect the enclosure where the alleged switched ballot boxes were kept.

“No formal investigation so no formal report, only an on-the-spot report of observations. We document what we observed but we did not put it in a formal report as a result of formal investigation,” he said in the House of Representatives fact-finding inquiry on the break-in held Wednesday.

He said that during inspection, he and other observers “saw no sign of breakage or alteration of the padlock and the seal” at the enclosure.

He also saw no tampering of the ballot boxes that allegedly contained the switched ERs.

He added that he kept the keys of the padlock and the ballot boxes inside his office.

“No intrusion could have possibly happened because everything was intact. The said break-in seems to be very impossible and we could hardly believe it really occurred,” he said. He added that no employee of the House of Representatives was accused of participating in the ER switching.

The keys

For his part, Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas noted that anyone could have gotten the keys from Adasa’s office and used these to open the enclosure in the dead of night.

Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago has claimed that then Philippine National Police (PNP) chief and now Zambales Gov. Hermogenes Ebdane ordered them to switch genuine ERs at the Batasang Pambansa with manufactured ones.

Santiago said the raids were conducted after the completion of the congressional canvass of votes for president and vice president and after Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was proclaimed winner.

He said they coordinated the raid with the head of the police contingent guarding the Batasan complex.

Adasa said the ballot boxes were always guarded by a member of the PNP Special Action Force and a member of the House security.

‘House security tapes recycled’

Adasa, meanwhile, debunked reports that the CCTV cameras in the Batasan were not working during the alleged break-in.

He said the CCTV cameras did not record anything during the alleged nights of the break-in. He said the VHS tapes containing the security footage were later recycled by House security.

Santiago earlier said the CCTV captured their operation during one of the nights of the break-in.