Lacson, who showed samples of what he said were questionable election returns at a press conference at the Manila Hotel, said the Arroyo camp had been filling up the forms months before the elections and used this in places like Cebu, Iloilo, Pampanga and Las Piñas.
The opposition senator, who ran and lost in last year's presidential race, said four boxes of these documents are now with a "man of the cloth," but refused to name him.
Lacson didn't say how and where he obtained the returns. Neither did he give an estimate of how many votes were added to Arroyo's count as a result of the manipulation.
The senator also didn't explain how the Arroyo camp managed the logistics of replacing the original elections returns with pre-fabricated ones. Presumably, this took place before the precinct-level elections returns were counted at the municipal canvass. It would have entailed switching around hundreds, if not thousands of documents either at the precinct or the municipal hall, or anywhere in between.
This operation, if indeed it took place, is more complex than the usual "dagdag-bawas" (vote padding and shaving), which entails doctoring the municipal or provincial certificates of canvass (COC) and their accompanying statements of votes (SOVs).
None of the controversial recordings of Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano mentioned pre-fabricated election returns, only fake COCs and SOVs.
Lacson, however, listed some unusual features of the supposedly suspect election returns:
- The page number was printed, but not the form number. "When the official ERs finally came, all they had to do was remove page one and substitute their pre-fabricated page one, complete with the matching, stamped serial number," Lacson said.
- The thumb marks on an election return from Floridablanca, Pampanga, according to Lacson, "make you wonder whether they used babies of kittens to make the marks."
- The "taras" (handwritten stick marks) on an election return in Las Pinas resembled those on an election return in Floridablanca, Pampanga.
He also insinuated that Rep. Ronaldo Puno, who handled the President's campaign, was involved in the allegedly dubious election returns.
At the press conference, Lacson also released the initial findings of UniQuest Pty Limited, an Australian firm that specializes in forensic audio examination, on the supposedly wiretapped conversations between Garcillano and the President, as well as with First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and former Sen. Robert Barbers.
The June 10 report of Dr. Brian Lovell said there was no evidence that the hour-long conversations Lacson had submitted for examination had been edited. Lovell, an associate professor at the University of Queensland and the research director of the Intelligent Real-Time Imaging and Sensing Group, said:
"(T)here are no obvious clicks and jumps in the conversations that would indicate editing. The background noise is quite consistently present throughout the recordings. Due to the close temporal interactions between the voice and background noise, it is my opinion that these signals were recorded at the same time and passed through the same communication channel. In my professional opinion, it would be difficult to edit these conversations imperceptibly because the background noise is so variable that it acts as a continuous thread underlying the voice recording—thus virtually any attempt to reorder or alter the conversation would lead to audible anomalies in the background."
Lacson said he was still awaiting UniQuest's full report, which would identify the voices the CD his office had submitted and the two CDs Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye released on June 6.
He said his office turned over the voice clips of the President, Garcillano, the First Gentleman, Barbers and Edgardo "Bong" Ruado, who Bunye had said was the "Gary" heard in what he claimed was the original tape.