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Over P12M seized from vote buying – PNP

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) admitted that vote buying was rampant in the recently concluded midterm polls.

As proof, authorities were able to seize more than P12 million from a total of 449 violators over the course of the election.

“Lahat ng nakumpiskang pera ay magsisilbing ebidensya laban sa mga na-apprehend natin na violators,” said PNP Spokesperson Police Col. Bernard Banac.

(All cash confiscated will serve as evidence against the apprehended violators.)

The highest amount seized was in Caraga region amounting to almost P8 million.

Other areas with the most number of vote buying incidents were Northern Mindanao with more than P1 million seized followed by Cagayan Valley (P561,000); Metro Manila (P541,100); and Bicol Region (P449,080).

From the 449 violators, a total of 356 were arrested, 85 persons evaded arrest while eight minors were rescued.

Most of the violators were from Metro Manila, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM); and from Regions 4a and 6.

“Wala pa tayong na-apprehend ngayon na nakakulong na sa vote buying dahil ang mga suspects at violators ay na-release for further investigation,” Banac said.

(None of those apprehended for vote buying were detailed because the suspects or violators were later released for further investigation.)

Appropriate charges were filed against the suspects for violation of the Omnibus Election Code.

If proven guilty, they will serve one up to six years jail term and in case of election candidates, they will be disqualified from holding public office.

The PNP is also looking into the possibility of using drug money in vote buying. – (with details from Lea Ylagan) Marje Pelayo

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Police cadet dies during training exercise in Cavite

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

Al Rasheed Pendatun Macadato

MANILA, Philippines – Cadet fourth class Al Rasheed Pendatun Macadato collapsed during a run on Tuesday afternoon (May 14) at Camp General Mariano Castañeda in Silang, Cavite.

The 21-year-old was taking part in the new cadet summer training program of the Philippine National Police Academy.

“Nagkaroon sila ng exercise at road run. Pagkatapos ng road run nila ng ala-singko ng hapon habang nagwa-warm down at stretching ay nakaramdam ng pagkahilo,” explained PNP Spokesperson Police Col. Bernard Banac.

(They had an exercise and a road run. After the road run around 5:00 p.m. during their warm down and stretching exercises, he [Macadato] felt dizzy.)

According to the PNPA, he was rushed to the Camp’s health dispensary and later to Qualimed Hospital in Sta. Rosa, Laguna where he was admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU).

But Macadato passed away on Wednesday (May 15).

Banac said the attending physician ruled out hazing as the cause of Macadato’s death.

Macadato died of heat stroke, according to the PNPA, as they were required to do some pull ups and running when he collapsed.

The PNPA said the hot weather may have affected the cadets’ training exercises and promised to look into the possible lapses in the training program.

“Patuloy itong iniimbestigahan ng pamunuan ng PNP…inaalam nila ang kaniyang medical records kung meron mang indikasyon o prone o maaaring naka-apekto, nakatulong at nakapagdulot ng kanyang pagkahilo,” the official said.

(The PNP leadership are investigating the case…they are looking into his medical records to see if there are existing conditions that may have contributed to his dizziness.)

Macadato was one of the 285 Fourth Class Cadets accepted in May 1, 2019 by the PNPA. Their batch was on their 10th training day when the incident happened. – (with details from Lea Ylagan) Marje Pelayo

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What’s holding PH from having a smooth automated election?

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Thursday, May 16th, 2019

2019 midterm elections at Commonwealth Elementary School, Quezon City (Rodel Lumiares/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – It took the Philippines 18 years before it finally applied the automated election system (AES) in 2010, the time when Benigno Aquino III was named the country’s 15th President.

The plan to fully automate the electoral process was raised in 1992 by then Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod during the term of then President Fidel Ramos.

Speaking to UNTV News, Monsod explained that the main purpose of automation was to expedite the election process and to make the job easier for the Commission.

“The vision is really to have the returns faster. It’s two – accuracy and speed. Those are the two objectives,” Monsod said on Thursday (May 16).

In 1996, the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was declared a success.

It was then that the computerized election system in the country was pilot-tested using the technology provided by a U.S. company American Information System, Inc.

In December 1997, Republic Act 8436 or “An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections to Use an Automated Election System in the May 11, 1998 National or Local Elections and in Subsequent National and Local Electoral Exercises, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes” was signed.

However, it was applied only to specific areas like Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and not to the entire Philippines.

During the term of former President Joseph Estrada, poll automation did not push through.

In 2004, the administration of then president Gloria Arroyo awarded the P1.3B poll automation contract to Mega Pacific E-Solutions but the Supreme Court (SC) nullified the contract due to irregularities in the bidding process. A complaint against then Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos Sr., other commissioners and executives of the Mega Pacific E-Solutions was filed in relation to the contract but the case did not prosper due to lack of probable cause.

It was in 2008 that Smartmatic-Sahi Joint Ventures entered a contract with Comelec as the provider of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Technology while the Active Business Solutions Inc. and Avante International provided the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) Technology.

The said technologies were applied in the ARMM elections that time but several glitches manifested.

In 2009, the contract for the 2010 presidential elections was awarded to Smartmatic-TIM, the same technology provided tapped in the succeeding polls in 2013, 2016, and this year 2019.

This preference to Smartmatic raised doubts and questions to the credibility of the election process.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for one, suggests that Smartmatic must be replaced by a different technology provider.

 “Matagal na noong January pa (ay) sinasabi ko na yan. Ang problema noong nag-privilege speech ako (ay) nakapag-award na ang COMELEC. Remember, kasi napakadaming problema,” Sotto said.

(I have been reminding them, ever since January. But then when I gave my privilege speech, Comelec already awarded [the contract]. Remember, there were many problems before.)

The recently concluded 2019 midterm polls was not spared from glitches and problems as many SD cards appeared defective and more vote counting machines malfunctioned as compared to the election in 2016.

But the poll body argues that it is only Smartmatic that passes their bidding requirements aside from the company’s experiences in the previous elections.

Comelec added that this year, not all election materials were provided by a single supplier which, according to the agency, justifies why there were defective supplies.

“In 2016, bundled ang aming bidding…Ngayon iba ang supplier ng makina, iba ang supplier ng SD cards, iba rin ang supplier ng papel at marking pens so doon ang nakita naming problema hindi masyadong nagma-match,” argued Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas.

What the poll body is looking at this time is whether or not to still reuse the VCMs despite their service in the two consecutive elections. – (with details from Rey Pelayo) Marje Pelayo

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Sotto, Zamora, Moreno topple giants; make history in PH politics

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

(L-R) Vico Sotto, Francis Zamora and Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso

MANILA, Philippines – The political arena had a complete turn-around in major cities in the country as the reign of political clans ended and new faces emerged victorious in Monday’s 2019 midterm polls.

Pasig City’s new, “millennial” mayor

A promise of a “new kind of politics” is about to start in Pasig City after 29-year-old Councilor Vico Sotto braved the pressure to break the almost three-decade unbroken line of Eusebios in the country’s eighth largest city.

On his official Facebook page, Sotto thanked his supporters for the trust while he promised to lead the city to its new beginning.

“Maraming salamat. Sa lahat ng nagbigay ng tiwala, sa mga bumoto, at sa mga nakiisa sa ating laban,” the incoming Mayor said.

“Sulit po ang pagod at effort natin. Narinig na ng bayan ang ating tinig. Handa na ang Pasig para sa tunay at pangmatagalang pagbabago!” he added.

Sotto, who topped the councilor race in 2016 in his first ever attempt in public office, is the son of veteran celebrities Vic Sotto and Coney Reyes.

Sotto did not field a vice mayor which left the incumbent Iyo Christian Caruncho Bernardo unopposed.

His party-mate former Rep. Roman Romulo also won the race against Mayor Bobby Eusebio’s brother incumbent Rep. Ricky Eusebio and is now a returning congressman for Pasig City’s lone district.

A game changer in San Juan City

Businessman Francis Zamora is the new mayor of San Juan City ending the reign of the Ejercito-Estrada clan in the smallest city in Metro Manila.

Zamora considered himself a game-changer after winning the election against Jannela Ejercito, the daughter of former senator Jinggoy Estrada and granddaughter of Manila’s incumbent mayor Joseph Estrada.

The new mayor promised to turn the old city of San Juan into a highly developed “Smart City” with improved services and state-of-the-art facilities.

Francis’ father, Ronaldo Zamora, remains in office after defeating challenger Edu Manzano for the lone district of San Juan.

The Estrada clan took hold of San Juan City since 1969 when then popular actor Joseph Estrada won as mayor. He was succeeded by his sons Jinggoy and JV Ejercito then JV’s mother Guia Gomez to whom Zamora narrowly lost his bid for mayor in 2016.

The Zamoras and Estradas were family friends for 30 years until Francis and Guia both ran in the mayoralty race in 2016. Francis claimed he was cheated in the election.

Dethroning a giant

Former Vice Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso defeated the “giant” in the country’s capital, Manila.

The new mayor described his win as a “humbling experience” while he could only wish the best for his opponent, former president and mayor Joseph Estrada.

“Maging masaya ang kaniyang mga araw sa buhay. Maging maligaya din siya na kapiling ang kaniyang pamilya…Nakapaglingkod na naman siya sa taumbayan. Napagbigyan na rin naman siya. And I think he did enough already for the country and for the city,” Domagoso said of Estrada.

A Tondo boy who used to scavenge for food, Domagoso established his political career from serving three terms as a city councilor, another three terms as vice mayor and the most recent as an undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

As now the new mayor of Manila, he promised “more programs of governance” for the city.

“Today is just the beginning. It’s going to be challenging years for us. People are expecting pero may awa ang Dios. We always wanted to be guided by law and order and by God,” he said after securing his win.

His running mate, incumbent Vice Mayor Maria Sheilah Lacuna-Pangan, also won for a second term in office. — Marje Pelayo

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