Hello, Garcia

By Herbert Vego

NO, this is not about the Garci whom Aling Gloria used to call. He is George Garcia, lawyer of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and one of the commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). He is now the handsome face seen on TV newscasts.

Hello, Garcia.  What’s the latest number on your presumptive president?

While I was writing this yesterday, out of the 65.7 million qualified voters, Bongbong had collected 31,104,175 votes. That’s more than double Leni Robredo’s 14,822,051.

But his own running mate, Madam Sara Duterte-Carpio, appears to be more popular with 31,561,948 votes, shaming Kiko Pangilinan’s 9,232,883.

In a past column, I commented that time must have stood still for Robredo, who had beaten Marcos in the 2016 vice-presidential race, scoring 14,023,093 votes against Marcos’ 13,803,966. He filed an electoral protest but the Supreme Court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal unanimously dismissed it.

But he is now winning and is called “presumptive president” whether we like it or not.

Thanks to the Comelec and Smartmatic for knowing whom to appease. They would not hear Bongbong complaining anymore.  It was good enough that Sara had agreed to slide down to second seat when all indications had previously been for Sara to run for president.

Still Bongbong must be wondering why Sara’s dad who had called him “weak leader” had weakened to finally support him. What could be the hidden agenda, if any? It’s hard to guess what’s in the outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte’s mind.

Remember, it was Duterte who had asked the Comelec to prosecute Smartmatic for the “seven-hour” glitch that resulted in the “wipeout” of the opposition Otso Diretso senatorial slate. So what? Nanalo naman ang kanyang manok na si Cynthia Villar. She had emerged No. 1, a big leap from her 10th place in 2013!

Anyway, that was obvious “drama.” An old news story from the Daily Inquirer dated June 3, 2019 said that the Comelec “could not hastily disqualify Smartmatic as the country’s systems provider for automated elections.”

Duterte himself had reportedly been a beneficiary of Smartmatic’s “kindness” when he won the presidency in 2016 against administration candidate Mar Roxas, Grace Poe, Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Jejomar Binay. He simply shrugged off the allegation of the then Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario that the election was rigged by Chinese cyber hackers “to install China’s puppet president”.

Now, this brings us to the present time when the same group of Chinese are being vaguely linked to pre-programming of Smartmatic machines to conform to survey forecasts. Accusers cite the “68:32 vote ratio” as evidence. This refers to the statistically improbable programming of the Comelec transparency server to produce periodic results with 68% additional votes for Marcos and 32% for Robredo popping up every 15 minutes during the first few hours after precincts closed at 7 p.m. on election day.

Robredo’s followers called on the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) – the Catholic Church-based political but non-partisan lay movement and election watchdog – to vet the aforesaid allegation.

The unexpected answer from PPCRV chair Myla Villanueva was that the random manual auditing of actual ballots was not part of their mandate but that of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).

Alas! No less than PPCRV volunteer encoder Freddy Olbes had earlier expressed disappointment upon discovering that they were encoding precinct totals that had been added up from election returns, instead of the individual ballot receipts from different precincts selected randomly.

“It was akin to examining the veracity of an original document by perusing its carbon copy,” he said. “In short, we were acting as the Comelec’s rubber stamp.”

More unbelievable is Robredo’s zero votes in 595 precincts, where a total of 270,600 voters voted. Now in New York City to attend the graduation of her daughter Jillian at New York University (Biomolecular Science), she has entrusted her lawyers to determine the frauds and file cases if warranted.

The fight against the candidacy of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., now presumptive president-elect, has reached the country’s highest court.

As reported on radio and TV yesterday, petitioners represented by chief counsel Theodore Te had gone to the Supreme Court (SC) asking it to “cancel and declare void ab initio the Certificate of Candidacy for President” filed by Marcos; and to restrain Congress from canvassing the votes and proclaiming him pending the resolution of their petition.

The SC petition prayed for reversal of the Comelec resolution junking petitions to disqualify Marcos from running for president because a lower court had found him guilty of failure to file income tax return for four years. Therefore, it’s as if he had never been a presidential candidate.

If the SC disqualifies Marcos ab initio, according to Te, his victory is voided and awarded to the second placer. He cited precedents, as in Maquiling vs. Comelec (G.R. No. 195649) which voided the election of Rommel Arnado for mayor of Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte for being a dual citizen (Filipino-American), giving way to contender Casan Maquiling as the winner.

But here’s another school of thought: If Marcos gets disqualified after he and Sara have already taken their oaths of office, the latter may take over.

However, since it is not within my power to discuss that legal complication, que sera sera.

Suffice it to say that Leni Robredo is a believer in destiny, which may yet lead her to Malacañang Palace.



CUSTOMERS of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) may now view the summary of their bills and payment history using their account number. They may also pay their bills online at http://payment.morepower.com.ph/.

New applicants for MORE Power connection may apply at its customer care department at Hotel del Rio.  Personnel assigned by the Iloilo City Engineer’s Office also hold office there to assist applicants accomplish pre-installation documents.

MORE Power is also on the campaign trail aimed at minimizing power trips-off in conjunction with the Iloilo City government, which has passed Regulation Ordinance 2022-371 which prohibits flying of kites near the high-voltage lines of power utilities. Kites or their lines hitting the power facilities are capable of disabling power or causing fatal accidents.

The said ordinance penalizes minor offenders with a fine of a hundred pesos or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or both depending on the court’s decision.

Offenders of legal age may be fined P200 or jailed for not more than six months, or both.

Witnesses may report violations of the said ordinance before any accident could happen.