Vergara and Balanag Deny Involvement in Ballot Theft

Vergara and Balanag Deny Involvement in Ballot Theft

April 25, 2015

Baguio City- The heart of Worthy Acosta’s ballot theft story as stated in a sworn affidavit submitted to the Comelec investigation panel revolved around the alleged participation of former Congressman Bernardo Vergara and Ferdie Balanag in the alleged electoral offense.

In paragraph 18 of his Affidavit, Acosta said, “sometime before June 30, 2013, I was instructed to go to Baguio”. Acosta then says, “about a day or two after” he travelled to Baguio where he allegedly met respondent Vergara and that “the following day” he went to the warehouse where the ballots were kept and that he then opened the ballot boxes and stole the ballots with Balanag. All in all, Acosta said that he stayed in Baguio for “three or four days”. Thus, even assuming that he got the instruction to go to Baguio on June 30, 2013 and he did travel a day or two later on July 2, 2013 and that he stayed in Baguio for four days or until July 6, 2013 – it would have been impossible for respondent Balanag to have accompanied Acosta in stealing the ballots since Balanag was out of the country from June 17, 2013 to July 7, 2013.

Balanag included in his counter affidavit a faithful copy of his passport and travel documents attesting to the fact that Balanag was out of the country during the time of the commission of the alleged crime. The Bureau of Immigration stamp on Balanag’s passport shows that he left the country on June 17, 2013 and that he came back on July 7, 2013. Balanag travelled to the United States of America with his 80 year old father and returned to Manila on July 7, 2013. He rested in Manila for a day and retuned to Baguio on July 8, 2014. Obviously, it was impossible for Balanag to have accompanied Worthy Acosta in allegedly stealing election ballots in Baguio.

The flight and booking records of Balanag attached to his counter affidavit shows the fact that he indeed left the country for San Diego on June 17, 2013 aboard Japan Airlines and that he left San Diego California for Manila on July 6, 2013 using the same Airline. It was therefore ridiculous for respondent Balanag to have participated in the ballot stealing story of Acosta.

The truth of the matter is that no arrangements were ever made by Tingting Cojuangco and former Biliran Cong. Glenn Chong with Vergara for any ballot retrieval or ballot-stealing plan. Vergara recalls receiving a phone call on August 2, 2013 from Cojuangco on a proposal to hold an Educational Forum in Baguio on Election Irregularities and for herein respondent to assist a certain Worthy Acosta. Putting up an Educational forum is a millennium away and vastly different from stealing ballots. Vergara thereafter called up respondent Balanag and instructed him to contact this Worthy Acosta and assist him in organizing the said forum.

Balanag’s affidavit states that he only got to know of Acosta on August 2, 2013. attached to his affidavit are faithful copies of the private confidential facebook messages that were exchanged between Acosta and respondent Balanag. It can be gleaned from these Facebook messages that the earliest confidential conversation between Acosta and Balanag transpired on August 2, 2013 at around 6.42pm to be precise. The conversation is damning for Acosta’s story. It is quoted below as follows,
“Conversation started August 2, 2013.
Ferdie Balanag : Magandang gabi sa iyo Worthy. Paki send naman
Yung email address mo. Pati na rin phone
Mo. May ipapadala akong email sa iyo tungkol
sa forum na tentatively scheduled on August 16
Worthy Acosta : Iamworthy49@gmail.com
0915 7827 105
sir, may I ask lang po regarding our visit
on Baguio if cong vergara could shoulder
the forum, kahit saan lang naman po
medyo malaki po kasi expenses na namin
dahil we are doing rounds nationwide. ”

The conversation establishes the fact that prior to August 2, 2013 respondent Balanag did not personally know Acosta – we see this from the request of Balanag for Acosta to give him his phone number. If they were really co-conspirators “sometime June 30” 2013 and for a few days after”, why then did Balanag ask for Acosta’s phone number only on August 2, 2013? It negates any suspicion that Balanag was a co-conspirator. Verily, it exonerates Balanag.

The private confidential Facebook messages between Acosta and respondent Balanag all talk about an educational forum on August 16, 2013. Nothing about any supposed plot to steal ballots. And certainly, there is nothing in the confidential text messages that would show any crime being committed by respondent Balanag. As would be detailed in the counter statement of facts below, respondent Balanag was only informed by respondent Congressman Vergara on August 2, 2013 about the request of Worthy Acosta for assistance in putting up an educational forum on Election Irregularities. On that same day, respondent Balanag contacted Acosta for the first time. Other than the perjured narration of Acosta, there is nothing – no evidence to show that respondent Balanag participated in stealing ballots with Acosta “sometime June 30” 2013 and for a few days after”.

Acosta narrates in his sworn affidavit… “While in Baguio City, we met with Vergara at a coffee shop along Session Road. He was accompanied by a man he introduced as Ferdie Balanag his Press Relations Officer … the three of us discussed, Vergara laid down the details of the retrieval plan…”

Why would respondent Vergara meet with Acosta in a COFFEE SHOP along a very busy Session Road – a place crawling with multitudes of people to discuss the commission of a crime? Would it not be more prudent that such a planned crime be discussed with utmost secrecy?

Bernardo M. Vergara had honorably served the people of Baguio for five terms as Congressman and one term as Mayor untainted by any charges of wrongdoing. At the height of the Napoles Scandal, respondent Vergara is one of a very few upright congressmen who did not abuse and misuse their PDAF allocation. In fact, Respondent Vergara NEVER had any dealing with the infamous Janet Napoles. In more than 50 years of honest and dedicated public service, starting as a humble District Engineer, Vergara had NEVER committed any crime, offense, and or felony. All these years, Vergara had zealously guarded the sterling reputation of his name.

Vergara respectfully states that he is totally innocent of the charges of participating in any crime to steal ballots in Baguio. Respondent has been very careful to protect the honor of his name – and now at the twilight of his career, he will make sure that his name remains untainted. In this paper’s attempt to get the side of Mr. Acosta, his email reply to us was “ Hello Mr. Sermi, my lawyers said not to comment first ongoing na po ang kaso kasi. But i can send you my affidavit po. And i stand po on what i said there. I have proofs to prove my claims just waiting for right time to reveal them. I hope you understand po. Now they want to destroy my credibility, its okay, but in time we will be able to prove my claim and accusations are true”, Further to this, in our interview with Mr. Nestor Castro, the Director for Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices of Linis Gobyerno, he expressed his hope that the Comelec should immediately resolve their investigation and that according to him “ the Affidavit of Mr. Balanag on his trip to the US does not prove his innocence as the alleged crime was committed sometime before June 30 2014 “./By Ferdie Balanag, PR of Bernardo Vergara with reports from Sermi Agus, The Junction Reporter/Researcher and RG.