Press Release
May 23, 2010


Congress will exert efforts to ascertain the authenticity of election results of the presidential and vice presidential elections without unduly delaying the determination and proclamation of the winning candidates, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. assured today.

"I would like to assume that Congress, as the national board of canvassers, would do its work fast enough so that it is not perceived as if it is acting to delay the proclamation of the rightful winners and perhaps negotiate concessions," he said.

Pimentel said Congress is duty-bound to give due course to reports or complaints of discrepancies, inaccuracies or fraudulent entries in the election results, as contained in the certificates of canvass (CoCs) from all provinces and urbanized cities.

In the face of the howl of complaints about anomalies in the automated elections caused by malfunctioning precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and alleged tampering or fabrication of results in several areas, Pimentel said that lawmakers, lawyers of candidates and other interested parties deserve to be heard if only to determine if they are based on solid evidence and to make the necessary corrections.

"As a canvassing body, we should act on the complaints supported by credible evidence within the bounds of our power and functions. Otherwise, we may be perceived as being a party to a coverup of possible anomalies," he said.

The Senate and House of Representatives are scheduled to hold a joint session starting May 25 to canvass the votes for presidential and vice presidential bets. Leaders of the two chambers of Congress had earlier expressed the hope that they can complete the canvassing of votes and proclaim the new president and vice president on or before June 4 when the legislature adjourns sine die.

Pimentel said due to the daunting task of addressing complaints of poll irregularities, it is possible that Congress may adjust its schedule. But despite the foreseen delay, he said Congress will be able to wind up the canvassing and proclaim the winners within an acceptable time-frame.

What is important, the minority leader, said is for Congress to provide a venue for ventilating these grievances if only the calm the anxiety and apprehensions of the nation over the real outcome of the elections.

Pimentel said that Congress may allow the interested parties to present their complaints of election irregularities although these can be fully addressed and resolved only through a protest before the presidential electoral tribunal.

He said Congress may be playing with fire if it will pretend to be deaf and blind to the loud rumblings about the alleged rampant fraud that marred the country's first nationwide automated elections.

The opposition leader from Mindanao recalled that when Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. was assassinated in l983, this did not immediately trigger a political upheaval. He said it was the massive electoral fraud in February, 1986, three years later, that prompted the outraged citizens to mount the EDSA people power revolt that led to the downfall of the Marcos dictatorial regime.

In this regard, Pimentel disputed the statements of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile as if he can dictate to the canvassing board what should be discussed during the canvassing.

"Only the Rules democratically adopted may prevent senators and congressmen from raising questions relative to the results of the elections - not the peremptory, authoritarian, martial law style, proclamation of the Senate president," he said.

"However, I support his stand that so-called valedictory speeches of outgoing senators or congressmen need not be part of the agenda of the canvassing board. To me, they are just self-adulatory and a time-wasting activity."

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