By JOAN DAIRO  -  Police officers were "pressured" to vote for President Arroyo during the April 27-28 absentee voting for military and police personnel, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Friday.

Lacson said junior officers told his camp that their superiors were threatened with transfer to hardship posts if they did not vote for Arroyo.

To stress the threat, the junior officers reportedly said, they were forced to vote with their superiors looking over their shoulders.

"They were made to vote in the gym, with officers watching them and pressuring them to make GMA win, by hook or by crook," he said.

Lacson said this is "not a healthy sign" and may be a "preview of massive cheating" on Monday.

"Ang mga pulis kapag bumoto dapat secret as a respect to their right of suffrage. Ito lang kasi ang tanging political exercise na puwede silang mag-participate kasi apolitical dapat ang police force," Lacson said.

Lacson cited as an example of "rigged" absentee voting the case at the Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna where he said more than 90 percent of some 4,000 policemen voted for Arroyo.

Lacson, PNP chief from 1999 to 2001, said he got only 5 percent and the rest was distributed among Raul Roco, Fernando Poe Jr. and Bro. Eddie Villanueva.

Lacson said on top of the questionable absentee voting procedures, the votes were also counted immediately after all ballots were cast. He said the votes should have been counted on May 10.

Worse, he said, there were no representatives from the Commission on Elections or the political parties when the votes were counted.

Asked if the scenario was duplicated in other police camps, he said, "that's the pattern."

"I never imagined my former organization would stoop so indecently, stoop so low, at least on the part of some officials to bootlick their patron in Malacaņang," Lacson said.

Lacson said his camp is securing affidavits from the junior officers who reported the anomalies in preparation for the filing of a case to invalidate results of the voting.

"Our consolation is that this will not go unnoticed. There will be decent policemen out there who will come forward," he said.

Lacson said his camp is ready for Malacaņang's cheating but admitted that "nothing is fool-proof so I am urging the electorate to be vigilant in guarding the integrity of their votes and the elections."

Rep. Carlos Padilla, Lacson's lone senatorial bet, said the "rigging" followed reports that Jose Miguel Arroyo had been giving money to police regional directors.

Lacson reiterated money changed hands between Malacaņang operatives and top PNP officials in efforts to ensure Arroyo's "victory" in the elections.

Sources said they are verifying reports that Transportation Secretary Leandro Mendoza, former PNP chief, is on top of the cheating operations.

Allegedly paid by Mendoza to be his coordinators and bagmen were PNP chief Hermogenes Ebdane, Director Enrique Galang, chief directorial staff; Deputy Director Virtus Gil, deputy chief for operations; Chief Supt. Oscar Calderon, comptroller; Chief Supt. Arturo Lumibao, CIDG chief, and Chief Supt. Jess Versoza who is detailed with Ebdane's office.

Lacson last Thursday said at least three PNP regional directors have openly ordered their subordinates to make Arroyo win in their areas of responsibility "by hook or by crook."

"At least three regional directors gave that order in command conferences. They had no qualms about exerting pressure on subordinates, telling them to cheat. That's foul, that's illegal," Lacson said. He refused to give names.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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