'Never, never accept any food or drink from anybody,' was the stern warning of Enrico Echiverri to his vote watchers. The young lawyer turned politician is running for mayor in the tough city of Caloocan in suburban Manila. The retiring congressman said his four opponents were not above lacing food or drink with laxatives that would force his poll watchers to rush to the toilets. In their absence, his number of total votes to be recorded on the official vote return could easily be changed. Even in the presence of poll watchers, attempts to cheat are blatant. Senator Rodolfo Biazon who was at the wrong end of a well-publicised case of election cheating in 1995, recalled that his poll watchers had caught the Commission on Elections canvasser Jocelyn Gaudin red-handed as she typed out 773 votes for a rival instead of the 73 he really got. The senator's watchers called it to her attention. She corrected it, saying it was 'a typing error'. But she then did it again by typing 200 instead of 20 for the same rival, Senator Biazon said, only to admit a second 'typing error'. Senator Biazon eventually won the election after an investigation by a congressional panel. Similar forms of cheating will happen again this election, warned Senator Biazon who is running on President Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo's slate. He disclosed that a 'broker with connections inside the poll body' had offered to 'protect' his votes for a multi-million-peso fee. In the presidential race, Christian Monsod, a respected former chairman of the Commission on Elections said 'cheating becomes difficult beyond 5 per cent of the total number of votes' - in this case, beyond 1.7 million, assuming an 80 per cent turnout. Cheating flourishes in the country's flawed electoral system, he says.