Press Release
January 13, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today urged Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo to make good on his pledge to ground field election officials who were implicated in rigging the results of the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Pimentel said the Comelec should particularly put in the freezer poll officials who allegedly conspired with former Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in the "dagdag-bawas" (vote padding and shaving) operations in the 2004 presidential elections which saw opposition contender Fernando Poe Jr. being cheated out of victory even in Muslim provinces where he had strong support.

"As long as known associates of Garcillano are occupying sensitive posts in the Comelec, there will be apprehensions over attempts by sinister forces to manipulate and subvert the electoral process," he said.

Pimentel lamented that that the so-called Garci boys were promoted, instead of being dismissed and criminally prosecuted. He said the lengthy investigation conducted by both chambers of Congress as well as investigative reports by the media revealed the involvement of Garcillano and his team of Comelec operatives in the manipulating the 2004 presidential elections, particularly in the provinces within the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Pimentel sought an explanation from the Comelec why Rey Sumalipao has stayed on as regional director of Comelec-ARMM despite ample evidence of his role as Garci's accomplice in cheating operations in Mindanao in 2004.

He said Sumalipao, having evaded sanctions for his wrongdoing, was promoted from provincial election supervisor in Lanao del Sur, to the top position in the Comelec regional office in the autonomous region.

"If only to put across the message that it is taking serious steps to clean up its house, the Comelec should fire or reassign Mr. Sumalipao to a role where he can do no damage to the electoral process. Perhaps he should be sent to Pag-asa island in the Spratlys," the senator from Mindanao.

Based on media reports, other Garci boys who were promoted were:

- Lawyer Renato A. Magbutay, who was assistant regional director in Western Mindanao in 2004. He was promoted regional director of Comelec in Northern Mindanao.

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

- Lawyer Francisco Pobe, who used to be election officer in Agusan del Sur, was promoted asst. Regional director in the Caraga region. Pobe identified himself in the Hello Garci tapes as "Danny" while informing Garcillano about the vote for administration senatorial candidates.

- 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 provincial board of canvassers. He was promoted chief of Comelec barangay affairs at the main office.

Pimentel said Director Fernando Rafanan of the Comelec law department has supposedly recommended the filing of appropriate administrative and criminal charges against the erring election officers.

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