Press Release
March 28, 2007


CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY -- Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today challenged government prosecutors and other lawyers who are deputized for poll duties to take the lead in preventing electoral fraud and stay true to their vow of fairness and truth as members of the law profession.

Pimentel lamented that some provincial, city and municipal prosecutors, unable to resist the temptation of money, allowed themselves to be part of a conspiracy to carry out dagdag-bawas (vote-padding and shaving) operations during past electoral exercises and in the process brought shame to themselves and to their profession.

I would like to request the prosecutors and the lawyer-members of the local boards of canvassers to reflect accurately in their certificates of canvass (COC) the results of the elections that come their way for official action, he told delegates to the 11th national convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) in this Northern Mindanao city.

The lone senator from Mindanao told the prosecutors that he is not suggesting that they do anything underhanded to favor the Genuine Opposition senatorial bets, who include his son and namesake, Aquilino Koko Pimentel, or the administration Team Unity candidates. I only ask that the prosecutors concerned would do their work pursuant to the Rule of Law.

As lawyers, let us help keep the elections clean. If the elections are dishonest, we put bad people in government. And bad government would be a disaster waiting to explode in a societal upheaval from which nobody would emerge victorious, he said.

Pimentel warned that if the prosecutors and other lawyer-members of the Boards of Canvassers do not discharge their duties faithfully, they would not only condemn themselves but also the people to suffer from the ill-effects of misgovernment and misrule for years on end.

But if they do their work according to the law, then, after the elections, we as a people, can breath easy and claim proudly before the world that we are not born to criminality or to be election cheats, he said.

But, that, we belong to a race that produced a Rizal, an Andres Bonifacio, a Gregorio del Pilar, a Ninoy Aquino , a Pepe Diokno, a Lorenzo Taada a people who value honor, dignity and decency in our lives to such a degree that we are willing to pay the supreme sacrifice whenever needed for the sake of God and country.

Under the election law, provincial and city prosecutors sit as members of the provincial or city election board of canvassers, along with the field election supervisors (as board chairmen) and the provincial school superintendents or city school supervisors.

Speaking from his own experience as prime victim of dagdag-bawas in the 1995 senatorial election, as well as the 2004 congressional and presidential election, Pimentel said votes are usually added or reduced in the Certificates of Canvass that, in turn, were supposed to reflect the summary of votes coming from the precincts of every municipality or the barangays of every city.

The Certificates of Canvass are done by the members of the provincial or city board of canvassers. It is on the basis of the COC that the Comelec proclaims the winners in the senatorial elections and Congress in its capacity as the national board of canvassers proclaims the winner in the presidential race.

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