MANILA, Philippines - As lawmakers prepare to buckle down to canvass the votes for president and vice-president, they will be faced with possible complaints on the ballots.
The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) plans to present to Congress on Wednesday evidence that will supposedly prove electronic fraud or e-fraud was committed during the elections.
Speaking on ANC's "The Rundown" on Tuesday, PMP lead counsel George Garcia says former President Joseph Estrada lost a lot of votes due to the alleged fraud.
"We would like to establish that certain votes were deducted from him," Garcia says. "There was certain evidence to prove there were data coming from other systems other than the systems set up by Smartmatic. We will try to prove there was cheating that benefitted certain candidates, not necessarily the leading presidential candidate. If that is established, that is also to the benefit of Senator Aquino if he will become the next president, because you wouldn't want to start your presidency your term, where there is a doubt as to your legitimacy."
Garcia says he hopes the move would not be taken to mean the PMP is questioning the mandate or legitimacy of the next president.
"It should be construed to mean the process as well as the evidence and provision of the rules adopted by Congress. Should we rely on the printed results, it should always tally with electronically-printed results," Garcia notes.
The joint committee is expected to decide on these matters.
LP: For protest, go to PET
But Liberal Party deputy spokesperson Liwayway Vinzons-Chato says the PMP's concern goes beyond the scope of the special canvassing committee. She adds it should in no way delay the committee's work to canvass the votes.
"Congress will have to proceed with the canvassing, and if there's any question as to fraud, they can bring it up during canvassing. But their venue should be the [Presidential] Electoral Tribunal (PET) if they question the win of the president," Chato says. "They can bring those matters up, put it on record if they want to, but that should not result in the delay of the canvassing and the eventual proclamation."
Complaints like the one raised by the PMP are expected to be raised during canvassing. But Atty. Koko Pimentel, lead counsel for vice-presidential bet Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, says this should not stall the canvassing itself.
"Even though the race is close, if the electronic documents are in order, there should be no cause for delay," Pimentel says. "One to two days for preliminary matters should not harm the process. Maybe if the delay is five days, then we will start to complain."
Watch for uncanvassed votes
Both the camps of the Liberal Party and Binay believe they will be able to corner the remaining 9.5% of uncanvassed votes once all the certificates of canvass are counted.
"We are not worried about the 9.5%," Pimentel says. "It will follow the general trend, so the lead of Mayor Binay will increase. We're predicting that his lead will be in the 900,000 plus votes."
"We're also predicting that that 9.5% would give our candidate [Mar Roxas] the lead," Chato adds.
The completion of the canvassing by Congress is expected to settle the winner in the vice-presidential race, reason enough for the Liberal Party to continue watching the votes of its vice-presidential candidate.
"When all the tallies have come in, especially the 9.5% which would give a bigger lead to Mayor Binay, then graciously our vice-presidential candidate would accept what the results would be. However if that 9.5% would be in favor of Mar Roxas, why would we give up," Chato says.
Estrada rules out concession
In the end, however, it may just be Estrada who will question the election results. More than two weeks after the elections, he continues to say he has no plans of conceding the presidential race.
Meantime, the PMP plans to raise their concerns before the joint committee. They also plan to ask Congress to subpoena telephone companies, as well as their audit logs, to determine the authenticity of the electronic transmissions of votes.