For the sake of its volunteers, Namfrel should respond

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo finally admitted last June 27 talking to “a Comelec official” about the 2004 election counting. Everybody presumes the official to be Virgilio Garcillano, but GMA has withheld his identity and avoided referring directly to the wiretaps, therefore cunningly retaining deniability.

One transcript shows this conversation on May 31, 2004:

“Garcillano: Hello, Ma’am.

“GMA: Hello, tsaka ano yung kabila, they’re trying to get copies of Namfrel copies of the Municipal CoCs.

“Garcillano: Namfrel copies ho? Ay wala naman, okay naman ang Namfrel sa atin, and they are now sympathetic to us.”

Isn’t that interesting? A Comelec commissioner widely suspected of masterminding the election cheating in 2004, in a private conversation with the President, confidently tells her the supposedly nonpartisan citizens’ watchdog is on their side.

The University of the Philippines has just published the analysis I wrote of the Namfrel tally of the 2004 presidential elections in the journal Kasarinlan (Vol. 19, No. 2, 2004, pp 92-118). The journal article went through a lengthy peer-review process before publication. The piece is also on some websites on the internet, like http://philippinegreens.cobra.org and http://www.abrenian.com.

These are the study’s conclusions:

  1. GMA did not win by 1.1 million votes, as the Congress count leads us to believe.
  2. GMA did not win by around 681,000, as the Namfrel Terminal Report indicates.
  3. The Namfrel tally shows clear signs of manipulation through selective tabulation in favor of GMA, making her lead appear to be larger;
  4. It was a very close contest, with the most probable results ranging from a GMA win of around 156,000 votes or less, to an FPJ win of around 84,000 votes or less. (By the way, this conclusion suggests that to give GMA a 1.1-million lead, her party had to cheat by some one million to 1.2 million votes.)
  5. Namfrel officials appear to be keeping the truth from the public by not including in their system design a provincial or regional breakdown of precincts counted; not releasing this breakdown despite strong demands by the opposition, the media and election watchers; continuing not to release this information today despite repeated requests; and keeping silent on the major discrepancies between their tally and the Congress canvass.

I had written a Yellow Pad column for this newspaper last year, openly challenging Namfrel officials to respond to my findings and to release the missing data in their reports. Because this newspaper is widely circulated within the business community, I had hoped they would at least respond and defend themselves, if they were concerned about their credibility within their own circles. I never got any response – not to my public challenges, nor to my letters faxed to their offices.

After GMA’s proclamation, the controversy died down and nearly everyone forgot about the cheating. But I couldn’t. I still cringed every time I hear GMA talk before a Mindanao audience, thanking them for giving her a mandate. (Namfrel had FPJ leading in Mindanao by 1.5%.) To put the whole sordid affair on record for historical purposes, I submitted my piece as an academic article in an international journal published by the University of the Philippines. After a lengthy review process that involved anonymous reviewers, it was approved for publication and I felt I could move on.

But life is rich in ironies and surprises: The Garci (Garcillano) CDs surface, the controversy is revived and the Kasarinlan journal with my piece on the 2004 elections is published.

With this direct reference in the controversial wiretaps to Namfrel, implicating it in the cover-up of the 2004 election cheating, can Namfrel officials continue to remain silent?

I reiterate my request to the Namfrel leadership: In your next en banc meeting, I am willing to go and present my case. Then the whole leadership, the majority of whom I still believe were not aware of the manipulations, can decide whether I have a case against Namfrel or not.

The Namfrel leadership owes it to all the Namfrel volunteers, some of whom risked their safety, if not their lives, to do an honest count, to determine exactly where the manipulation of the Namfrel count occurred.

To convince the rest of Namfrel that they really need to check “who did it” among them, I ask them to do one very simple process:

  1. Get a copy of Report no. 82 (second to the last report) and the Terminal Report (#83, the last report).
  2. Subtract the total votes counted in #82 from the total votes counted in #83 to get the new votes tallied in the Terminal Report.
  3. Subtract the total precincts counted in #82 from the total precincts counted in #83, to get the new precincts tallied in the Terminal Report.
  4. Divide the new votes tallied by the new precincts tallied to get the average number of voters per precincts.

We should get 194.4. Since there are around 200 registered voters per precinct, this implies a 97% turnout of counted votes. Add to this the average number of invalidated votes (3%) and you get a 100% voter turnout. An earlier report, no. 26, which tallied some 280,000 votes from Central and Western Visayas (GMA bailiwicks) suggests a voter turnout of 109%.

There are more, but isn’t this reason enough to take a second look?

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