BY CHRYSEE G. SAMILLANO
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia yesterday renewed his call on Bacolodnons to remain vigilant amid unconfirmed information relayed to him by a “distinguished personality” that fake vote counting machines (VCMs) were allegedly used during the counting at the close of the polling precincts by 7pm last night.
He, however, did not identify the said personality when pressed by reporters after casting his votes at Precinct No. 0227A at the Education and Training Center School III past 3 p.m. together with First Lady Elsa Leonardia and daughter, Kara.
“We have no strong evidence as of yet, but we should not take things lightly,” Leonardia told newsmen.
The election, he said, is everybody’s business and the integrity, dignity and soul of the people of Bacolod are at stake.
“Our future is at stake here,” the mayor continued.
He repeatedly appealed to residents to be on full alert as he was cautioned late Sunday night that there are individuals who are bringing in unofficial VCMs.
He said the entire Grupo Progreso is alarmed as talks about the fake VCMs surfaced, including the specific place where they will be operated.
“We have to take care and be careful of what we do during elections, especially during the counting. The tip came from someone who is not a joker and is respected in the community. Because of this, we are taking it with some seriousness but, at the same time, we are not concluding things,” the mayor added.
He also reminded the source to coordinate with the police should new leads surface regarding the fake VCMs.
NO INFORMATION – SORBITO
Acting Bacolod Election Officer Revo Sorbito yesterday said that he has not received information or reports regarding attempts to hack the results of the vote counting machines (VCMs) in Bacolod City.
Sorbito was reacting to the statement issued by Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia that he was informed that there were people sent to the city who knows how to manipulate the result of the machines and that they are verifying the matter.
“This must have been reported to Mayor Bing. But the mayor has no specific details regarding that. I believe he is saying that based on the information he has received,” he said.
Sorbito said “Of course as a candidate, he would not take that information lightly.” But the result of the VCMs cannot be altered. And he would like to advise the public not to believe anything if they have no evidence yet.
The VCMs arrived during the Holy Week, as well as the ballot boxes and these have been stored in a warehouse. No one has access to them except the Comelec personnel. Even the police or security guards cannot enter the warehouse, he said.
Meanwhile, Leonardia said he believes in the integrity of the Bacolodnos in choosing their leaders and that he respects their decision.
“I assume that the people voted according to their conscience, according to their own choice (of candidate),” he said.
Leonardia appealed to everyone especially to those assigned in the different voting centers, to ensure that no one will manipulate the election process.
Leonardia described this year’s polls as “generally peaceful.”
“I believe that people voted according to their conscience and chose who they think are the right people for the right positions. The kind of leaders that we will elect will determine the kind of life and future that we will have here in Bacolod,” Leonardia said.*