Press Release
May 30, 2010


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today asked officials of the Commission on Elections not to cover up the illegal disposal of used election paraphernalia in a dumpsite in Cagayan de Oro City by falsely claiming that they had been stolen from its office due to the negligence of election personnel.

Pimentel said the theory of pilferage is belied by the official report of the Cagayan de Oro police that there were no signs that the 10 sacks of poll materials, including election returns, four compact flash cards and official ballots found at the dumpsite and partly brought to a junk shop, had been stolen.

The recovered materials were turned over to Archbishop Antonio Ledesma who is scheduled to testify on the incident today before the 20-man joint committee of Congress tasked to canvass the votes cast for the presidential and vice presidential candidates in the May 10 elections.

Based on the police report, Pimentel said the election paraphernalia were transported out of the Comelec office two days after the elections by a truck with the marking Comelec Service Center allegedly driven by one Federico Gempisao. He said the name of the driver and plate number of the truck have been identified by the police.

Although Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal has assured they are looking into the unauthorized discarding of election paraphernalia, the senator from Cagayan de Oro expressed dissatisfaction over the slow pace of the investigation and failure to identify Comelec personnel who may be involved in the incident.

"Some 20 days after the incident, why has the Comelec, along with the Parish Pastoral Council on Responsible Voting, not completed its investigation report? Worse, the Comelec initially stated that there was nothing wrong with the disposal of the already-used election paraphernalia," he said.

Pimentel said it is the duty of Comelec to keep custody and preserve all these materials since they may be used as evidence to resolve electoral protests and complaints of cheating.

"The fact that these materials had been prematurely thrown away has given rise to suspicion that there was a deliberate attempt to destroy possible pieces of evidence of electoral fraud.

Pimentel said Speaker Prospero Nograles has confirmed that the joint committee has scheduled Archbishop Ledesma at the resumption of the canvassing Monday afternoon.

He said Archbishop Ledesma has requested that a local PPCRV representative be allowed to corroborate his testimony, specially in explaining the retrieved CF cards of which he is not knowledgeable,

Pimentel expressed support for the move of fellow lawmakers to get to the bottom of the alleged padding and shaving of votes for certain candidates through the tampering or pre-programming of the CF cards which contain instruction on the entries in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

He however challenged complaining candidates to muster the courage to reveal the identities of the members, agents or brokers of electoral fraud syndicates, including Comelec officials, who allegedly approached them and offered their services to make them win in exchange for a hefty fee running into several millions of pesos.

Pimentel said even the very reputation of the Comelec is at stake because of the allegations that certain high officials of the poll body were involved.

"Once the culprits are unmasked, the authorities concerned should spare no efforts in investigating the allegations against them and in prosecuting them until they are punished and jailed," he said.

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