|ON THE OTHER HAND|
|Namfrel and Fraud
By Antonio C. Abaya
August 12, 2004
The good news, I told the Rotary Club of Makati Metro in a talk at the Manila Golf Club last August 10, is that another showbiz ignoramus did not become president of the republic.
The bad news is that there was apparently substantial fraud in the May 10 elections And the even more dismaying bad news is that Namfrel, which was/is supposed to be an independent and non-partisan citizens’ watchdog, seems to have deliberately tried to hide that fraud. How substantial is substantial? Judge for yourself.
Readers of this column are aware that I analyzed the electoral data from Namfrel, between May 12 and June 5, in three consecutive articles: “Namfrel Chickens Out,” June 10; “Namfrel Defended,” June 16; and “Namfrel vs Comelec,” June 23. Included in the second article was a letter from Namfrel defender Vicky Garchitorena. Included in the third article were excerpts from a letter from Namfrel sec-gen Bill Luz. A second letter from Luz was included in a succeeding article, “Credibility,” July 1.
All articles and reaction letters are archived in full in www.tapatt.org. Included in the third article were excerpts from a lengthy analysis by Roberto Verzola, published in the June 20 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
This my fifth Namfrel article summarizes the salient points in the first four, and then comments on Namfrel’s Terminal Report, which was released to the public on or about June 30. Again, I am drawing heavily from Verzola’s detailed analysis of this Report. Verzola’s two analyses will be archived in www.tapatt.org.
I had monitored the tabulations of Namfrel as released to the public on a daily and up to thrice-daily basis, and as posted on www.inq7.net , starting on May 12 and continuing to June 5. I converted all vote counts to percentages of vote share so that I could easily compare the evolving data with the results of the pre-election surveys of SWS and Pulse Asia, as well as with the results of the SWS exit poll, all of which are, by necessity, expressed in percentages.
The most noticeable aspect of the Namfrel tabulations (which, by the way, were based on election returns [ERs], not on certificates of canvass [COCs] and thus would have been the perfect cross-reference for the COCs of both Comelec and Congress) was the sudden and enormous spike in the vote count and vote share of GMA on May 15-16, which gave her a lead over FPJ of 13.6% on May 17. Previously, her lead over FPJ had been fluctuating between negative 2.8% and positive 4.2%. Was this sudden spike coincidental or deliberate? Judge for yourself.
But, I wrote, after May 17 GMA’s lead over FPJ steadily and inexorably dropped, almost in a straight line, from a high of 13.6% (on May 17) to only 2.08% (on June 5). GMA’s vote share dropped from a high of 45.8% (on May 17) to 39.05 (on June 5). On the other hand, FPJ’s vote share rose from a low of 31.8% (on May 16) to 35.97 (on June 5).
I wrote that if one were to plot on a x-y graph the vote shares of GMA and FPJ, the downward curve of GMA would soon intersect the upward curve of FPJ, meaning FPJ would soon catch up with GMA and possibly even overtake her. At this point (June 5), Namfrel stopped releasing its data to the public, with 24.777 million votes counted and 79.21% of the precincts accounted for. Was this coincidental or deliberate? Judge for yourself.
Enter Roberto Verzola, an engineer (UP) by training, who therefore does not get dizzy, as most people do, when staring at pages and pages of numbers. In an almost-entire broadsheet page in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of June 20, Verzola analyzed, as I had done in this column earlier, the same Namfrel data, but with much more ancillary information, from both Namfrel and Comelec, than was available to me.
Let me repeat what I wrote on June 23: “Verzola took the last update from Namfrel showing a total of 24.777 million votes tabulated and broke (it) down to the shares of each of the 17 regions. Then, from the votes cast for GMA and FPJ, he calculated GMA’s lead over FPJ per region, as well as her lead nationwide (515,598 or 2.08%) as of the Namfrel count of June 5.
“Knowing the percentage of votes tabulated by Namfrel per region (data not available to me), Verzola extrapolated what the “final lead” would be per region if Namfrel had completed its count, on the reasonable assumption that the untabulated votes would reflect, more or less, the same choices as the tabulated ones.
“Verzola then summed up those ‘final leads’ per region and came up with a ‘final’ total (354,084 votes or 1.1%) as GMA’s nationwide lead over FPJ if Namfrel had completed its count. (This confirmed my earlier projection that GMA’s lead of 2.08% in the Namfrel tally would have dropped even more if Namfrel had continued its count after June 5. It was really “GMA By a Hair”, the title of my May 13 article.)
“Verzola then compared GMA’s ‘final lead’ nationwide in Namfrel (354,084) with her final lead in the Comelec tally (1,097,937) – 1,123,576 in the Congressional canvass – and calculated the discrepancy at 210.08%, which he classified as ‘huge’.
Comparing the Namfrel and Comelec tallies by region, Verzola found ‘huge’ discrepancies in Western Mindanao (396.85%), the ARRM (310.07%), and Northern Mindanao (128.33%), and a ‘major’ discrepancy in Central Mindanao (62.79%), all in favor of GMA. All other regions had only minor discrepancies or no discrepancy at all, except the Ilocos Region and Central Luzon, which had a minor and a major discrepancy, 15.59 and 118.22% respectively, in favor of FPJ.
Verzola faulted Namfrel for tabulating GMA’s votes from her Cebu and Pampanga bailiwicks early (which gave her the spike on May 15-16) and for entering FPJ’s votes from his bailiwicks later, resulting in what Verzola called a “skew”, a point which Luz never answered or explained in his two letters to me.
Comes now Namfrel’s Terminal Report, which was released on or about June 30, signed by Jose S. Concepcion Jr, national chairman; Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez D.D., national co-chairman; and Guillermo M. Luz, secretary general. Said Terminal Report gave a province-by-province and city-by-city breakdown of the ERs tabulated by Namfrel, as well as a breakdown of Namfrel’s coverage of the precincts, also province-by-province and city-by-city.
Eight places had 100% coverage, 40 had coverage between 90 and 99%, 15 had coverage between 80 and 89%, etc. But the Terminal Report gave no explanation for the skew in its tabulation of votes, which was one-sidedly in favor of GMA The only new information in the Report was that Namfrel’s coverage had increased from 79.21 to 82.98% of the precincts, or an additional 3.77%, which translates into 677 additional precincts.
(That plus the gratuitous tidbit that “….disenfranchisement may have run as high as two million voters rather than the 900,000 that exit polls had suggested…..” But that’s another part of the fraud story.)
Using the wealth of detailed information that he had accumulated on this election, the tireless and eagle-eyed Verzola examined this new data and has noticed another skew, again in favor of GMA. He says the additional inputs included 100% of the uncounted ERs from Central and Eastern Visayas, 49.7% of the uncounted ERs from Western Mindanao, 41.5% of the uncounted ERs from Bicol, all regions where GMA was the leading candidate. The second skew..
On the other hand, from vote-rich regions were FPJ was leading, the new inputs included only 10.5% of the uncounted ERs from the National Capital Region, only 2.5% of the uncounted ERs from Central Luzon, and zero % of the uncounted ERs from Central Mindanao, plus some ERs from minor regions. The third skew.
Verzola also claims that as of June 30, presumably after the release of Namfrel’s Terminal Report, the remaining votes that had NOT been tabulated by Namfrel totaled 5,092,550 (broken down by regions), of which 4,006,430 were from areas were FPJ was leading, and 1,086,120 were from areas where GMA was leading. The fourth skew, which resulted from the second and third.
The net result of this skewed additional inputs was to increase GMAs lead over FPJ in the Namfrel tally, from 515,598 votes or 2.08% to 680,922 votes or 2.58%. The unstated suggestion seems to be that if the untabulated ERs from the remaining 17.02% of precincts were inputted, GMA’s lead would equal or approximate her 1,097,937 lead in Comelec (and 1,123,576 in the Congressional canvass).
That, of course, would be highly improbable, even impossible, if Verzola is correct that of the 5,092,550 untabulated votes in those 17.02% of the precincts, 4,006,430 were from areas where FPJ was leading, and only 1,086,120 were from areas where GMA was leading.
Was there substantial fraud in the May 10 elections? It certainly looks that way. Why else would anyone deliberately (it could not have been coincidentally) skew the tabulation of the ERs, not once but three times, if he/they was/were not trying to hide something?
The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), through its president, Bishop Fernando R. Capalla, DD, archbishop of Davao, said in their statement of June 1, included in the Namfrel Terminal Report, that “If there were reports of cheating locally or regionally, the bishops cannot say that there was a national conspiracy to engage in massive cheating.”
But what can the bishops possibly know about “massive cheating” if they did not critically look at the numbers as Verzola and I did, independently of each other?
Was the fraud substantial enough to affect the outcome of the elections? Judge for yourself. But what is more apparent is that Namfrel, through the three skews in its tabulation, seems to have deliberately tried to hide that fraud.
Three questions. Question no. 1: Honest elections are the soul of liberal democracy. If we cannot hold honest presidential and senatorial elections (there was also substantial fraud in 1986, 1992 and 1995), why hold them at all? We might as well have a communist dictatorship or a military take-over.
Question no. 2: Having perfected electoral fraud to a fine art and an exact science, will the evil genius or geniuses behind all this stop in 2004? Or, more likely, will they go on to 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016 etc., and even run for the highest position/s himself/themselves?
Question no.3: If we can no longer believe in Comelec, Congress, Namfrel and the CBCP, who or what else can we still believe in? *****
The bulk of this article appears in the August 21, 2004 issue of the Philippines Free Press magazine.
Reactions to “Namfrel and Fraud”
Of course there was substantial fraud. anyone could tell you that.
(But could “anyone” have come up with statistical evidence that could hold up in court? ACA)
listen, no one can claim that I am an FPJ fan...but that does not mean I
am for fraud...
(Neither am I. ACA)
and we all know that the hordes of Inoteph were turned back.. but with
what? the Scorpion Queen to rule?
but I digress..ask anyone who was in Cebu during the elctions...they will
all tell you that perhaps 60 to 70% of the people voted..yet the returns
but like Lacson said, in a third world setting, if you are too stupid to
not to safeguad your votes, you don't deserve to be president.
eros kaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 15, 2004
Great analysis. I agree with both of you.
Mano Alcuaz, email@example.com
August 16, 2004
I have two hypothetical questions for you.
You said that it was good news that another actor-candidate did not win the
presidency. But that it was bad news that fraud seems to have been committed.
What would you then rather have?
Would you rather that no fraud was committed and have another
actor-candidate (whom you described at times as ignoramus) for president?
And if GMA did win the presidency but by only about 300,000 votes, would
Namfrel's continued counting do more good or more harm to the present
Bobby Tordesillas, firstname.lastname@example.org
August 16, 2004
MY REPLY. I would rather that GMA was declared winner but by the 300,000+ majority that she actually got, not by the 1.1 million votes of Comelec-Congress. And I am in favor of disqualifying Namfrel as a citizens’ watchdog as, under Guillermo Luz, it can no longer be described as such.
A week ago a survey (Ibon, I think) showed that majority of Filipinos don't believe the elections were honest and don't believe GMA won fairly. Unfortunately a majority also doesn't seem to care.
Tonton Mapa, email@example.com
August 17, 2004
MY REPLY. Welcome to the Philippines.
(Through the pldt egroup)
This is an addition to Mr Abaya articles about NAMFREL which I found
in TODAY's Editorial and would want to share it with you and the
rest of the PLDT.com family.
Questions in my mind on this critical matter is:
> Do you think the present government will interfere in this or will
they silence the critics of NAMFREL, since the government in power
today will be the most affected by all these halabaloo that's going
>Will this incidents be creating a "Judicial test" in the nearest
future (if it even gets there)?
>will the TUTA's in robes, as percieved by many, be silenced by
the "appointing hand" who put them in their lucrative posts?
> So may we ask..... who really won the 2004 elections? (GMA? /
FPJ? / LACSON? VILLANUEVA? / ROCO? / the # 1 Billionaire of the
world? Sino kaya?
Only time will tell my friends, I guess....As the saying
goes... "Hintayin ang susunod na kabanata, kung payagan magkaroon
August 17, 2004
By law, the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)
is supposed to spot poll fraud. However, its conduct in the May 10
elections and in the subsequent canvassing has made a growing number
of Filipinos ask if Namfrel is really an election watchdog or yet
another massive machinery for pulling off elaborate schemes to rob
The current Namfrel traces its roots to the campaign for the 1984
Batasang Pambansa elections. While it did not prevent the Marcos
dictatorship from stuffing the martial-law parliament with its
toadies, Namfrel nonetheless succeeded in exposing to the whole
world the depths to which the tyrant sank in securing his hold on
The run-up to the 1986 "snap" presidential election once more saw
Namfrel gallantly standing up to the traditional "guns, goons and
gold" of Marcos and his minions. Comprehensive (mainly
international) media coverage beamed to the whole world inspiring
images of Namfrel volunteers guarding ballot boxes in the face of
mortal threats and actual assaults by ruffians that the dictatorship
deployed to steal election victory from Cory Aquino. Namfrel was
cited again and again as a fine example of civic virtue in action at
a time when the winds of democratization were just beginning to
sweep the planet.
That many of Namfrel 's leaders were identified with the Cory camp --
or, more precisely, the broad multiparty movement to topple the
dictatorship -- mattered little then. Marcos was cast as such an out
and out villain that even independent observers looked the other way
as the political partisans who made up Namfrel's high command passed
themselves off as nonaligned election watchdogs. This was Namfrel's
original sin, which would haunt it over the next two decades.
That some Namfrel leaders eventually accepted appointments in the
Aquino administration, notably Jose Concepcion Jr. as trade
secretary, merely reinforced the suspicion of their partisanship.
But that did not stop him and other Namfrel officials from going on
with the charade in subsequent elections.
When Namfrel was accredited as the "official" citizens' arm of the
Commission on Elections, the watchdog secured a permanent place in
the electoral process. It became entitled to its own copies of
election returns. It was permitted to conduct a "quick count," which
was supposed to not only parallel COMELEC's official tabulation but
also to alert the public to discrepancies if and when they occur.
In short, Namfrel's poll operations were supposed to confirm whether
or not a political exercise was clean. In the May 10 presidential
contest, however, Namfrel failed miserably short of its mandate.In
the presidential race, Namfrel ceased its "quick count" even though
over five million votes remained to be counted. Its own abortive
tally had President Arroyo ahead of Fernando Poe Jr. by just over
In such a close contest, the watchdog's cessation of its operations
was tantamount to gross dereliction of duty. Indications are,
however, that Namfrel intentionally dropped the ball, as it were,
and threw it out of the hardcourt to deny FPJ even the slimmest
possibility of scoring a win.
Had the watchdog proceeded with its count and covered all of the
election returns it was able to secure, the public would at least
have had a clearer idea of the contest's real results, in stark
contrast to the landslide that the administration-dominated Congress
Social activist, engineer and computer wunderkind Roberto Verzola
did the nation a service by tracking, documenting and exposing the
apparent irregularities in Namfrel's operations in the last
No, Namfrel can no longer be counted on to check election fraud,
which it actually encouraged through its dismal, to say the least,
conduct in the last general elections. Its official accreditation as
COMELEC's citizens' arm should be withdrawn forthwith.
Election watchdog? Running dog is more like it.
TODAY EDITORIAL, August 17, 2004