The regional director of the Commission on Elections in the Cordillera Administrative Region (Comelec-CAR), according to sources, allegedly distributed money to some local Comelec officials in the region to ensure that election results would favor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential bid.
By Arthur L. Allad-iw
BAGUIO CITY – NORDIS sources allege that the regional director of the Commission on Election in the Cordillera Administrative Region (Comelec-CAR) allegedly distributed money to some local Comelec officials in the region, including provincial and municipal election officers and assistants and provincial officers, to ensure that election results would favor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidential bid.
The sources, who asked that their names be withheld, pointed to Comelec-CAR Regional Director Armando Velasco as having secretly distributed cash to individual officials on May 5 at the Skyrise Hotel in Bontoc, Mountain Province, during a Comelec-sponsored seminar on the very small aperture terminal (VSAT).
VSAT is a computerized system of transmitting the election results for quick-count purposes, which the Comelec had wanted to implement for the May 10 elections.
The sources said that Velasco gave P5,000 each to some provincial election officers and supervisors, and P3,000 to some election assistants. One source admitted having received the P5,000 in five one thousand peso bills, which serial numbers were documented by the NORDIS staff as follow: BX674303, CD295853, AG355700, GD068637, and DC316791.
One of the sources said that while in the hotel, Velasco had in his possession a medium-sized black attaché case, which the source said was full of one thousand peso bills.
A source quoted Velasco as telling them to “make good” the money for the election. Another source, who asked what the money was for, quoted Velasco as saying that the money came from local politicians. The source said he doubts this, adding that if the money did come from local politicians, they could have easily distributed it themselves through the provincial and local election officers.
Another reliable source claimed that the distribution was made to ensure that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would get the maximum possible Cordillera vote. Unofficial quick counts by NAMFREL and PPCRV show GMA leading in the presidential race in the region.
“We were promised a promotion,” said another source, “if the result of the elections favored GMA.”
Some officials interviewed by NORDIS insisted they did not receive any such amount, indicating that not all officials were given election money, and giving rise to speculations that other officials may have possibly pocketed the undistributed remainder.
NORDIS tried to interview Dir. Velasco by phone in the Comelec-CAR office but a staff member named Carmel Jenome said Velasco was in Manila. “He will proceed in Tinglayan, Kalinga in the evening of June 4 to supervise a special election,” added Jenove. NORDIS could not reach him in a follow-up call just before presstime.
Meanwhile, progressive groups in the region said that millions in pesos circulated in the region during the election. The LAKAS-CMD alone allegedly distributed P20 million as campaign fund for the Cordillera. Out of this amount, P4 million was reportedly given to a congressional bet in Mt. Province.