Press Release
January 27, 2008


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said incoming Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo has a lot of cleaning-up to at the Comelec, starting with the weeding out and prosecution of field election supervisors and other officials involved in fraudulent practices, especially during the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Pimentel said that the integrity and credibility of Comelec cannot be fully restored unless these notoriously undesirable and discredited elections officials are removed and punished.

"Ironically, these scoundrels in the Comelec, instead of being booted out and charged with criminal offenses, were promoted to higher positions, courtesy of the previous Comelec leadership," he said.

Pimentel said the choice of retired Supreme Court Justice Jose Melo is already a fait accompli.

"Let us give him a chance to discharge his constitutional duties and to implement electoral reforms," he said.

Pimentel, however, expressed disappointment that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has turned a deaf ear to the long-standing proposal of the opposition for at least one of its nominees to be named to the Comelec.

Pimentel said an important task that could serve as an acid test to Melo's capability and independence is the dismantling of the syndicate composed of Comelec officials and professional fraud experts responsible for the "dagdag-bawas" operations that tainted the results of the 2004 Presidential and 2007 Senatorial Elections.

He said piles of evidence of the nefarious activities of this fraud syndicate have surfaced in the ongoing recount of the votes cast in 44 towns in Maguindanao and other Mindanao provinces in connection with the electoral protest of Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III against administration Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri before the Senate Electoral Tribunal.

According to Pimentel, many ballot boxes when opened were empty, some yielded fake ballots, with handwriting by one or two persons only while other election documents, like election returns and certificates of votes, were missing.

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