Press Release
May 22, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today slammed the Commission on Election for failing to impose sanctions on its officials and employees who have been implicated in anomalies in the conduct of the automated elections and in the acquisition of poll equipment and paraphernalia.

Pimentel urged the Comelec to discard its wishy-washy attitude in addressing complaints of electoral fraud lest public faith in this supposedly independent constitutional body will be totally eroded.

He also reminded the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) to faithfully discharge its function of exposing poll fraud and other malpractices and in having them corrected as "the people's eyes and ears on the conduct of the automated election system."

The opposition senator from Mindanao expressed dismay over the handling by the Comelec and PPCRV of the dumping of 16 sacks of election materials, including compact flash cards, memory cards, election returns and official ballots, in a dumpsite and junk shop in Cagayan de Oro City two days after the May 10 balloting.

Pimentel said the Comelec, instead of undertaking a full-dressed investigation of the incident, tried to justify the disposal of the election materials by saying they were of no use anymore since election results from the city have already been officially tallied and transmitted.

"Why would the Comelec say these materials were now considered useless? That comment shows how complacent they are in checking anomalies. Under the Election Code, they have the obligation to preserve the election documents and paraphernalia since they would be presented as evidence in case of complaints or protest that may be filed by interested parties," he said.

Pimentel suspected that the attempt to throw away and destroy the already-used election materials was intended to cover up irregularities in the automated poll count. In fact, he said a Catholic priest who assisted in retrieving the discarded election materials has received death threats.

He said that while the PPCRV sent a team to Cagayan de Oro to look into the incident, it has kept silent over its findings "as if they are bound by an oath of omerta to keep quiet."

"Why are the people not told of what they have found - so far? They do not need to jump into conclusions. All that the people want is that they are kept abreast with the doings of the PPCRV," Pimentel said.

He said the PPCRV must not keep its findings in the vaults of secrecy that tend to augment public anxiety over reported anomalies the 2010 elections.

"Otherwise, their very act of keeping things close to their chest, will fuel speculation that they want to cover up for the misdeeds of certain people."

Pimentel said officials of the Comelec, who had anything to do with the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, and the executives-operators of Smartmatic (contractor of the automation project) who assured the nation of the flawless results of the automated system should be called to account with proper evidence for anomalies unearth in the aftermath of the political exercise.

He assailed the tendency of Comelec to be lax and to cover up for the misdeeds of its own people as shown in past elections.

Pimentel said the Comelec has not punished by way of criminal charges any of its officials who allegedly conspired with politicians and election operators in carrying the rigging of the results in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections.

He also scored the poll body for its failure to crack down on members of an inside syndicate who are allegedly involved in the overpricing and other irregularities surrounding the purchase of election materials such as ballot secrecy folders, ultra violate ink, UV detection lamps and ballot paper.

"I hope that today the Comelec commissioners should help unmask the perpetrators of acts of manipulation of the automated voting machines and other election-related activities. They should charge the culprits administratively, suspend them immediately, prosecute them subsequently and jail them accordingly," Pimentel said.

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