By Jet Villa, 

MANILA – A former member of the staff of presidential aunt-in-law Margarita “Tingting” Cojuangco surfaced Friday at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to accuse her of co-masterminding a plot to discredit the May 2013 elections.

Worthy Acosta said in his 17-page affidavit filed at the Comelec’s Law Department that former Biliran Rep. Glenn Chong was also behind the black propaganda attempt.

According to Acosta, he stole and tampered ballots from Precinct 5, Barangay Asin Road in Baguio City. The documents were used by the group of Cojuangco and Chong as supposed evidence of massive electoral cheating in 2013.

Acosta was accompanied by his lawyer Francisco Sibayan, who said it is now up to the Comelec Law Department to decide on the culpability of Cojuangco and others involved in the scheme.

He was also accompanied by recently-retired Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. who told reporters that he first met Acosta last January 6 before his retirement.

Brillantes described Acosta as a credible witness, and added that more witnesses may come out against Cojuangco.

“I am executing the herein affidavit for the purpose of exposing violations of the Omnibus Election Code and other relevant laws committed by various personalities mentioned herein, and requesting the Comelec to conduct the appropriate investigation and prosecution of these offenses,” he said.

Acosta said he started working for Cojuangco immediately after the elections and she ordered him to conduct background research on critics of the automated polls who lost their electoral bids.

He reportedly found Chong, who met him and Cojuangco sometime in late May or June, 2013.

Chong pointed out that the best way to prove election fraud was to take a look at the actual ballots, so he suggested a remote island in Biliran called Mariripi which frequently experienced power shortages, so breaking into the Treasurer’s Office would be easy.

But Cojuangco allegedly proposed Baguio City as she had “strong connections’ in the area because former congressman Bernie Vergara was eager to expose electoral fraud in the city because he ran and placed only third.

Acosta related that he traveled to Baguio, where he was introduced by Vergara to a certain Ferdi Balanag, his press relations officer.

Acosta said Balanag had accompanied him to the Treasurer’s Office and, there, they were able to steal ballots with the help of “a bunch of people wearing t-shirts that bore markings of the Treasurer’s Office.

He then alleged that, on orders of Chong, he tampered the ballots to make it appear that Vergara was cheated.

“When I finished fixing the ballots, I proceeded to Cong. Vergara’s home to report … Vergara looked devastated. He was readily convinced of my story. As it turns out, even before Tingting approached him in connection with the Baguio operation, he was already convinced that he was cheated. He was an incumbent, yet only placed third in the elections – quite a rare occurrence in Philippine politics,” he said.

Acosta said he traveled back to Manila and reported the ballot retrieval to Cojuangco, but he left out details like the tampering of the ballots, as instructed by Chong.

“The intention of this propaganda is to convince the public to rally behind our cause and against automated election system. The goal in view is to mobilize supporters and sow dissatisfaction towards the present administration using the issue of massive electoral fraud,” he added.

According to him, they used the tampered ballots to make propaganda materials such as Powerpoint presentations, leaflets and video clips” tending to expose alleged fraud in automated elections.

The group presented the propaganda materials at various gatherings and talks, particularly in universities.

Acosta narrated that they continued to gather evidence in July 2013 and “this was the time when we met up with other … advocates of clean elections and the very visible critics of Comelec, such as Corazon Akol, Evita Jimenez, Angel Averia, (former Comelec Commissioner) Gus Lagman and Melchor Magdamo.

Acosta said he was also involved in some business transactions of Cojuangco and Chong, including a steel crap business that did not pan out.

He said he decided to come out as he was accused by the two of stealing and Chong had threatened to sue him.

Acosta had sought the help of Chong’ rival congressman Rogeluo Espina who advised him to approach Brillantes.

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