Press Release
May 17, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today said candidates for President and Vice President, along with their lawyers, who claim to have been cheated should be prepared to present credible evidence so that Congress can give due course to their complaints when it canvasses the votes for the two positions.

Pimentel said he will see to it that allegations of fraud are properly addressed by the Senate and House of Representatives, and not summarily disposed of with a plain "noted" as what congressional leaders did during the canvassing of votes in the 2004 Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections.

"It is imperative on the part of the Senate and House of Representatives to pursue common efforts in ascertaining who really won the elections and the true will of the people. We want to see a President who genuinely represents the people and who can lead the nation on the road to unity, peace and progress," he said.

Pimentel issued the statement in the wake of allegations by certain candidates, political leaders and groups that rampant irregularities have marred the country's first fully automated national and local elections. The complainants claimed that election results, as reflected in the certificate of canvass, did not match with the figures in the election returns. There were also allegations of manipulation of election results through the use of tampered and pre-programmed compact flash cards which contain instructions for the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to read the ballots.

The opposition senator from Mindanao said it is the job of the Commission on Elections to look into the allegations of high-tech or "digital dagdag bawas" (vote padding and shaving" and to initiate criminal charges against the perpetrators.

Pimentel stressed that Congress, in discharging its vote canvassing functions, should act as decisively but as impartially as possible in resolving the allegations of poll anomalies. But he said Congress cannot take action on complaints unsupported by evidence.

"They should gather all available evidence. Whether it was Erap or Villar or anyone who was cheated, they should come up with solid evidence, without which it would be a futile exercise," he said.

Pimentel urged election authorities to investigate the reported dumping of l6 sacks filled with election returns and related paraphernalia into a junk shop in Cagayan de Oro. He said such election materials should be preserved and kept by the Comelec since they may be used in resolving electoral protests by the candidates and parties concerned.

Such disturbing incidents, he said, only fuel the suspicion that fraud perpetrators have started destroying evidence of poll cheating. Some groups have already warned the Comelec against destroying the compact flash cards or memory cards.

"It was patently irresponsible for Comelec to say that they found nothing wrong about the disposal and dumping of the used election paraphernalia in Cagayan de Oro by claiming that they were of no use anymore because the elections are over," Pimentel said.

He also reiterated that Smartmatic International, the contractor of the P7.2 billion poll automation project, must be held responsible for the scrapping of essential security features and the malfunctioning of the PCOS machines that have led to fraudulent election results, aside from causing mass disenfranchisement of voters.

"Smartmatic officials, foreign and local alike, should be prevented from leaving the country while the election irregularities are being investigated. They should be criminally charged as warranted by evidence that may be unearthed in the investigation," Pimentel said.

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