Press Release
August 11, 2011

Sen. Pia welcomes Sen. Aquilino 'Koko' Pimentel III
Transcript of Interview with Senator Pia S. Cayetano
Member, Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET)
Hotel Sofitel, Pasay City

Q: Mam how do you feel after so many months of deliberations?

SPSC: Actually no, I've been a member of SET for four years. So I've been very much involved since Day One of the protest. And it's very personal to me, kasi kumbaga nakita ko talaga yung developments, nakita ko yung bagal ng process, and in fact, nakita ko rin ang shortcomings in the process. And the delays that, in a way, were intrinsically part of it, but also at the same time, sometimes caused by intentional delays.

So throughout all that, there was a showing already, months ago, on the meritorious protest of the protestant--now Senator Pimentel--that he had overcome the lead of the candidate who was proclaimed then, Senator Zubiri. It showed that Pimentel was in the lead, but there was this counter-protest that was filed by Zubiri. And we had to await the outcome of that to get a complete picture. So it was effectively the withdrawal of the counter-protest that now allowed the SET to use the evidence it had, which is that based on Sen. Pimentel's protest, to make the final decision. Kasi wala nang aantyin, hindi na tatapusin yung counter-protest. So this evidence has been available to us since around 2009.

Q: So how do you feel now?

SPSC: In a way I feel relieved but I still feel frustrated, because I saw it. I was a member of SET for the last four years. And I was one of the few [Note: Along with SET Chair, Justice Antonio Carpio] who dissented in the resolution of the tribunal to allow the counter-protest to continue [Note: SET Resolution No.07-105, issued 4 June 2010, where 7 members concurred - Justices Presbiterio Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Sens. Edgardo Angara, Richard Gordon, Loren Legarda, Manuel 'Lito' Lapid, and Francis Pangilinan who concurred in part and dissented in part; while 2 members dissented - Justice Antonio Carpio and Sen. Pia Cayetano]. Because kung hindi nag-continue yun [Sen. Zubiri's counter-protest] at that time then a few months ago, na-proclaim na rin dapat si Sen. Pimentel. But having said that, we're already here, I think it's a triumph for the SET as a Constitutional body.

Q: Do you think this should have happened two years ago when Sen. Pimentel's lead was already established?

SPSC: Yes, or at the very least, at that time when the evidence of the counter-protest already showed that after the 25% of the counter-protest [Zubiri] had been counted, na kahit ituloy mo pa yung remaining 75%, hindi na mao-overcome pa yung lead ng protest [Pimentel]. At that point, pwede nang ma-declare based on my understanding and interpretation of our rules.

So yun lang ang frustration. Kasi kung hindi tayo nagkaroon ng supervening event--yung resignation ni Sen. Zubiri and the consequent filing of his manifestation to withdraw his counter-protest--e di andun pa rin tayo.

Q: Gaano kaya katagal natapos ang pagbilang ng counter-protest kung di nangyari lahat yun?

SPSC: Everytime we meet tinatanong ko kung gaano katagal pa ba. And the estimate was to target the end of this year. But you know, at the end of the day, if you were duly-elected, of course you should be serving your full term di ba? So every day nade-delaye ay di rin mo nagagampanan ang tungkulin mo [as a senator].

Q: Ano po ang nakita n'yo sa mga balota?

SPSC: Again these were presented to us in the meetings. So in a way, naging 'experts' or 'semi-experts' na kami sa technicalities. Eto palang mga ballots natin ay may mga watermarks yan. Mayroon yang mga reaksyon sa sunlight, reaksyon sa tubig, and iba-ibang mga reaksyon ng mga mga secret markings nila doon. But in the spurious ballots, makikita natin na ibang-iba. We saw ballots that show that these were written by a group of people. So iisang klaseng handwriting lang. And meron ding written by one person. Meron ding showing ng marked ballots. Meron ding yung nag-submit ng ballot, halimbawa mayroong di sinagutan doon, pero may ibang nagsagot, so parang written by two people.

Q: So those were rejected?

SPSC: So those were the evidence that were presented, and yes rejected. Then these are the total tabulations [shows the dispositive portion of the decision] na ang na-deduct [na spurious ballots] kay Sen. Pimentel is 88,561and kay Sen. Zubiri is 365,246. And then after revision and appreciation, the total number of votes is 10,898,786 for Pimentel and 10,640,620 for Zubiri. The differenceis 258,166.

Q: But in 2009, the lead [of Pimentel] was at 257,000-plus?

SPSC: Yes, but I think there were final adjustments in it.

Q: Handa na po ba ang Senado na i-welcome si Sen. Pimentel?

SPSC: Of course! Syempre at duly-elected naman sya. We all come from various political parties, we all have different political groups that we belong to, but at the end of the day, we respect each other as individuals who are duly-elected. Twenty-four lang kami. We are actually 22 plus 1 and yes, we welcome him with open arms.

Q: I-e-encourage n'yo po ba sya na sumama sa Minority?

SPSC: Of course, we always encourage everyone to join us, tatlo na nga lang kami eh. [laughs] So everyone is welcome. His sister, Atty. Gwen Pimentel, was my party-mate when we ran last year, and Sen. Nene Pimentel was the minority leader when I was in the majority, and then later we together became the minority. Marami kaming history, I work very closely with him. Of course I welcome another Pimentel.

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