MANILA, JUNE 7, 2007
(STAR) By Perseus Echeminada - The dead may have indeed risen from their graves and gone to polling precincts across the country to cast their votes in the last midterm election.

Information technology (IT) expert and engineer Roberto Versola, who is conducting an audit of the results of the recently concluded elections, is literally seeing ghosts casting votes in several provinces, resulting in a voter turnout of over 100 percent, where the number of votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters in the precincts.

Versola is the secretary of Halalang Marangal (Halal), an election watchdog conducting an audit of copies of certificates of canvass (COCs) from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).

He is working overtime to reconcile what he called “troubling discrepancies,” which showed that, in some precincts, there were more than 100 percent of voters who cast ballots.

“We are still trying to determine the errors, we cannot make any conclusion that some candidates benefited in the suspected voters’ padding in several provinces,” Versola said.

A computation of the irregularities in Batangas province alone shows a discrepancy of 200,000 voters in 5,825 precincts in the province. A voter discrepancy index is the average total vote per precinct, which is also the average of the actual number of voters multiplied by the actual number of people who visited precincts to cast their votes.

He also said the significant discrepancies they found could have been due to clerical or encoding errors – or to intentional alteration.

Halal’s “Audit Report No. 3” released Monday focused on 46 provinces and showed that Tawi-Tawi is one of the areas where COCs with significant discrepancies between the Comelec and Namfrel tallies were found.

Versola also said Tawi-Tawi’s 2007 discrepancy index of 5.7 percent is a vast improvement over its 35.9 percent discrepancy index in the 2004 presidential election, when the votes of President Arroyo canvassed by the Comelec increased by 18 percent of the total votes, while the number of votes for the late Fernando Poe Jr. decreased by 17 percent, as compared with the figures of the Namfrel tally.

Other areas noted by the audit report with a very high voters’ discrepancy index besides Batangas were Negros Occidental, Apayao, Benguet, Ilocos Norte, Marikina City, Agusan del Sur, Aklan, Aurora, Bukidnon, Camarines Norte, and Misamis Occidental.

Versola said the discrepancies vary, adding that sometimes the Comelec count is higher than the Namfrel tally and vice-versa.

Another development that caught Halal’s attention was the post-election audit where Bataan registered zero discrepancy in the entire Comelec and Namfrel tally sheet they obtained.

Versola said Bataan’s lack of discrepancy comes from a perfect match for each candidate between the Comelec and Namfrel tallies.

“This suggests that no Bataan election returns were set aside in the lengthy legal processes of the Comelec and canvassing from the municipal level to the national level and every Namfrel ER was also legible.”

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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