Press Release
August 13, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today expressed his outrage over the reports that field election officials who allegedly assisted former Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in manipulating the outcome of the 2004 presidential election in Mindanao have been promoted to higher positions instead of being punished.

Pimentel said the rewards being given to these election operators confirmed public suspicion that Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos conducted moro moro or farcical investigation of these poll officials who were mentioned in the Hello Garci tapes.

This leaves not only a bad taste in the mouth, but it is also unsettling because the Comelec has a primordial function in preserving the democratic experiment that we have, he said.

The lone senator from Mindanao said he learned about the promotion of the so-called Garci boys during his visit last week to Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro City.

Pimentel said the promotion of these tainted election officials to higher posts was unjustified because they have not been officially cleared of their alleged involvement in the rigging of election results.

Reports said lawyer Rey Sumalipao, who chaired the provincial board of canvassers in Lanao del Sur, has been promoted Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Regional Director, covering provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Basilan.

The National Movement for Free Elections has confirmed the tampering of election documents in Lanao del Sur which enabled President Arroyo to beat opposition contender Fernando Poe, Jr. in the province by several thousands of votes.

Other Garci boys who were promoted to juicy posts were:

Lawyer Renato Mabutay, who was Regional Director in ARMM in 2004, is now the Regional Director for Northern Mindanao covering Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Camiguin, Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.

It was Mabutay who informed Garcillano that an election officer in a town in Basilan, carrying certificates of canvass and election returns with her, had disappeared. Mabutay allegedly suggested that family members of the missing poll officer be kidnapped to force the officer to surface. But Garcillano rejected that suggestion.

Lawyer Francisco Pobe, who used to be election supervisor in Agusan del Sur, is now the Asst. Regional Director for the Caraga region. Pobe identified himself in the Hello Garci tapes as Danny while informing Garcillano about the votes for administration senatorial bets.

Lawyer Renault Macarambon, who was mentioned by Garcillano in the tell-tale tapes, as his pointman, was the vice-chairman of the Lanao del Sur board of canvassers. He is now the chief of the Comelecs election and barangay affairs in Manila.

Pimentel said he was informed that the promotion of these undeserving election officers has caused demoralization among the Comelec officials and employees who wish to see the poll body being cleansed of stigma as a corrupt and discredited institution.

If the Comelec is unable to protect the integrity of the expression of the will of the people through the electoral process, then the whole democratic experiment will come tumbling down as some future time. I think its about time efforts must be taken to correct the perceived deleterious effects on the whole structure of this agency, he said.

Pimentel said the promotion of election officers who had a hand in 2004 poll cheating and failure to prosecute and remove them from office means that the machinery for cheating remains intact for the 2007 polls.

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