By Vicente Labro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
November 21, 2010, p. A20
TACLOBAN CITY – Neophyte Rep. Rogelio J. Espina questioned the study made by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (Cenpeg) on alleged fraud in Biliran.
The Cenpeg study entitled “A Case Study: Biliran Province , Probing into Possible Automated Cheating” under Project 3030 Research, cited electoral irregularities in the May 2010 national and local elections in the province.
However, Espina said Cenpeg “has only looked and considered in its study the protest complaint of Chong.”
“This means that the Cenpeg acted only as speaker of Chong,” Espina said in a text message on Friday.
Espina, who served as Biliran governor for three consecutive terms, won the congressional seat in the lone district of Biliran over his closest rival, then reelectionist Rep. Glenn Chong.
Espina said if elections in Biliran had been fraudulent, then two of his allies – sister Roselyn, who ran for vice mayor of Naval, and Lucila Curso, who ran for vice governor – could have not lost.
Espina said the people of Biliran simply rejected his political rivals.
Chong’s father, Charles, lost the gubernatorial race to former Biliran congressman and former Naval mayor Gerardo Espina Jr., a brother of Representative Espina.
Espina said the younger Chong controlled four of eight mayors in Biliran, who shifted alliances during the elections. Most village officials in the province, he said, were also pro-Espina.
“There are really some politicians who cannot accept defeat,” said Espina.
Highlights of Cenpeg report
- The Biliran chapter of Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the accredited watchdog in the May 10 elections, was not informed of the reconfiguration of CF cards.
- In one barangay (village) in Caibiran, Biliran, Comelec documents were found falsified, including voters’ list and registration records. A case has been filed against members of the board of election inspectors in relation to this finding.
- Sworn statements were issued saying a deceased resident and some who worked in Metro Manila or overseas on May 10 were recorded as having voted.
- Extension of voting hours in Barangay Iyusan in Almeria town led to more irregularities.
- Voting was extended until May 11 in several villages without prior Comelec approval.
- In some areas, voting went on despite the absence of CF cards.
- Election returns were stamped with the wrong date and time.
- Results by precinct were not made public.
- In five clustered precincts, results were retransmitted but the transmission showed a different Internet protocol address, not that of the PPCRV or Comelec.
- A brownout took place while one Attorney Santos and representatives of an election watchdog, the PiNoy Lawyers, were questioning the votes’ statistics. Rogelio Espina was declared winner of the congressional race when power was restored.