MANILA—An election lawyer on Wednesday warned candidates against falling for groups claiming they could rig the results of the May automated elections for a hefty fee.
People purportedly working with the Commission on Elections’ information technology department have offered the service in exchange for P50 million to P60 million, said lawyer George Garcia, who cited complaints from several of his clients in the provinces.
"Wag maniniwala. Imposible. Nobody can manipulate the result of the computerized election," he said in a media forum.
Garcia said the scheme could be "tempting" to unsuspecting candidates, given the high cost of running a nationwide campaign.
A senatorial candidate with a political party is allowed by law to spend around P180 million, based on the number of registered voters for May.
Garcia said some of his clients for local posts had been told that these syndicates could fix the results in their favor "in 5 minutes."
"That cannot happen. Definitely, that will never, never happen," he said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also cautioned the public against over voting, for instance, picking more than 12 candidates for the senatorial election.
Voters are also allowed to choose only one party-list group.
Jimenez said excess votes for a particular position would be deemed as “stray.”
"'Yung hindi over voted, all of those will remain valid and they will be counted as normal," he told reporters.
Jimenez also called attention to "disinformation activities" such as the claim that there was no such thing as "ballot secrecy."
The strategy is often used by those engaged in vote-buying to warn voters that they have a way to ascertain which names they will actually pick on the ballot.
Jimenez clarified: "There is no means for anyone, not even the Comelec, to determine kung sino ang binoto ng individual voters."
Voters also need not bring their voter certifications, he said, but noted that identification cards would be needed only if their identity was challenged at the polling precinct.
“In general, you don’t need an ID to vote,” he said.
There were also cases, he said, where certain local officials would produce fake voters’ lists excluding certain names to dupe them into thinking that they were not registered and could not cast their vote.