MANILA,  May 14, 2004
By Nikko Dizon  -  Volunteers of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) feared sabotage yesterday when 10 telephones at their operations center in Makati started ringing alternately and they heard the pre-recorded voice of an American woman.

Allan Mauricio, manager of the KNP’s People’s Tally and Action Center at the Makati Coliseum in Barangay Singkamas, told reporters their quick count was being sabotaged.

"This is sabotage," he said. "We can’t use the system altogether."

Meanwhile, KNP standard-bearer Fernando Poe, Jr. said yesterday he believes he has won the presidential elections.

"We’ve been winning since day 1," he told reporters during a surprise visit to the Makati Coliseum.

Poe said nothing else but sabotage could have caused the sudden overloading of the KNP communication system.

However, he reined in accusations that the administration had orchestrated nationwide cheating in Monday’s elections.

"Tingnan muna natin ((Let’s take a look first)," he said.

"Mahirap naman kung todo-todo ang paghusga. What we are after is the truth. It remains to be seen kung paano ang magiging galaw namin."

He called for sobriety, but stressed that he would guard the votes of the Filipino people up to the end.

"Pero huwag naman sana umabot sa people power," he said.

Poe said he was in Makati last Tuesday, when his supporters gathered at Paseo de Roxas and Ayala Avenue for a victory march, but that he did not go there because "it might be mistaken as a protest rally."

He was in Makati to celebrate the victory of Mayor Jejomar Binay and the KNP in the city, Poe added.

While Poe stayed at the tally center for almost 45 minutes,

Mauricio said his staff was able to trace the calls to a company called Envoy Worldwide, an offshore messaging center based in Massachusetts in the United States.

The STAR also heard the message that was repeated twice before the line was cut off.

Mauricio said the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT) confirmed that the KNP’s phone system had been jammed by an "external source."

The clogged lines prevented KNP field men from relaying their reports to the quick count center, he added.

All the telephone lines at the tally center have already been changed and the PLDT has installed caller IDs on all of them.

Mauricio said "certain individuals or groups" hired Envoy Worldwide to mount an automated system into the KNP’s tally center.

"You have to pay dollars to be able to hire Envoy," he said.

"It automatically rings various numbers and sends voice recording to keep our phone lines busy, and we cannot receive any calls regarding our tally."

Mauricio said a "malicious virus" entered their computer system a couple of days ago, causing the KNP tally to slow down.

"This is an attempt to sabotage the operations here, some forces do not want the real vote to come out," he said.

"I appeal to whoever is out there to let the truth come out. There is no reason for us to hide."

Meanwhile, Binay, a member of the KNP executive committee and campaign manager, warned yesterday that the country is now in the midst of a political crisis because the administration is suppressing the true results of the elections.

"Let us assure you that we are not here to foment violence," he said. "If there are upheavals, rallies or protests, the people are angry."

Binay said the KNP, along with Eddie Villanueva’s Bangon Pilipinas party met on Wednesday with Archbishop of Cebu Ricardo Cardinal Vidal to express their concern over "the systematic and systemic electoral fraud" being committed nationwide.

"(We) hereby agreed to continue gathering evidences on the election and appeal to all Filipinos to remain vigilant as the election process continues," he said.

The KNP, Bangon Pilipinas, and the Christian Nationalist Union of former budget secretary Salvador Enriquez will continue to gather evidence of electoral fraud and present a copy of their report to Vidal, he added.

On the other hand, Senate President Franklin Drilon asked Poe yesterday to concede to President Arroyo to calm down the people and prevent "adventurist groups" from taking advantage of the situation.

"Mr. Poe has the responsibility to help calm our people, not to agitate or insult people, by making sweeping statements," he said.

"I would be the first to defend Mr. Poe if in fact he can pinpoint any particular area where he was cheated for a reason." Drilon said Poe should bring his case before the Commission on Elections or Congress if he has evidence that he had been cheated.

"Let us not destroy our people’s confidence in the electoral process by alleging widespread fraud without any basis," he said.

"It might be appropriate if some candidates who did not make it consider making statements respecting the results of a fair election, if only to calm down our people and leave in the dark any adventurist who may take advantage of the situation to do something extra-constitutional."

However, Binay told reporters the people will not accept the outcome of a fraudulent election, just like in 1986 when they rejected the questionable victory of President Ferdinand Marcos over opposition candidate Corazon Aquino.

"History could repeat itself with the widespread cheating done by the Marcos camp 18 years ago," he said.

"We’re asking (the administration) to review the message of 1986 because history may repeat itself. We should learn from history."

But Deedee Siytangco, Mrs. Aquino’s spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview Binay should not liken Mrs. Aquino’s predicament in 1986 to that of Poe now.

"I understand that he wants his candidate to win, but he should not include Mrs. Aquino here," she said.

Siytangco said Binay, a close personal friend of Mrs. Aquino, must be reminded that the people’s fight against martial law set the stage for the protests in 1986 that led to the toppling of Marcos.

"I am so sorry (Binay) had already forgotten," she said. "Please don’t demean the good fight that we fought."

Binay should re-read history, Siytangco added. — With reports from Jose Rodel Clapano, Evelyn Macairan, Edu Punay, Paolo Romero

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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