5 to testify vs. SoCot election supervisor

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes said the five witnesses have already executed their affidavits pointing to relieved South Cotabato election supervisor Lilian Radam and two other unidentified Commission on Elections employees as the ones who manipulated the figures in the province’s statement of votes (SOV) and certificate of canvass (COC) to favor six senatorial candidates of the administration-backed Team Unity (TU).

She said the affidavits would be used by Genuine Opposition (GO) senatorial bet Aquilino Pimentel III for the 12 counts of election sabotage charges he filed last week against “Radam and two other John Does.”

“These are backed by solid evidences so we’re hoping that the wheels of justice will move this time,” she told reporters this morning.

Fuentes said among those who agreed to back up Pimentel’s case are provincial budget officer Bernardita Vallar and South Cotabato schools division superintendent Adelfa Espartero.

Pimentel earlier said they found discrepancies between the figures of the provincial COC and SOV submitted by Radam to the national board of canvassers and the copy of the election returns issued by the Comelec to the opposition party.

In a radio interview, Pimentel pointed out that the tampered COC and SOV showed him trailing TU's Miguel Zubiri by at least 25,000 votes but the sixth copy of the election returns and COC obtained by GO regional coordinator Lualhati Antonino indicated that he was ahead by almost 50,000 votes.

In the results of the provincial canvassing for senatorial candidates, which was tallied in a huge blackboard inside the South Cotabato provincial capitol in Koronadal City, Pimentel placed 10th with 192,356 votes while Zubiri was 14th with 141,674 votes.

Pimentel said Zubiri's votes ballooned to 217,000 votes and made the third place behind Loren Legarda and topnotcher Panfilo Lacson of the GO.

He said the areas where the votes were padded are General Santos City, Koronadal City, Banga, Lake Sebu, Norala, Polomok, Sto. Niño, Surallah, Tampakan, Tantangan, T’boli and Tupi.

Fuentes said Radam, who was relieved from his post by Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos last week, allegedly made the manipulation of the election results after convincing the two other members of the provincial board of canvassers to sign a blank certificate of canvass before she left for Manila to submit them to the national board of canvassers.

“Now it’s time for the Comelec to make a more tangible move by locating Radam’s whereabouts,” she said.

Radam went missing after the alleged tampering came out in the open last week. The local media had tried but failed to contact Radam through her mobile phone.

“Nobody knows where she is right now. I don’t know this woman and we cannot forgive her for what she did to us here,” Fuentes added.