Watchdog group warns Maguindanao case to haunt Arroyo govt, calls for Senate probe

Jun. 30, 2007

MANILA — Election watchdog Kontra Daya, warned that the Maguindanao case will haunt the Arroyo administration in the same way the Hello Garci scandal marred the legitimacy of the Arroyo presidency.

Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya spokesperson said. There is no doubt that the Maguindanao elections and the entire elections in Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) have been rigged to deliver votes for administration senatorial candidates. Miguel Zubiri, if proclaimed, will be regarded as a fake senator, someone who usurped the 12th seat in the Senate.

Dizon recounted the many gross anomalies hounding the Maguindanao polls. Gov. Andal Ampatuan, a known Arroyo ally, boasted on national television that he would give P1 million to each mayor who would deliver 12-0 victory for Team Unity. Several teachers who witnessesd systematic fraud came forward; one of them, Musa Dimasidsing, was gunned down while the others are in hiding sans any protection from the Comelec. The Abalos Comelec stopped the initial canvassing of the Maguindanao votes based on the provincial certificate of canvass (CoC) because it considered zero votes for 19 non-TU candidates a statistical impossibility. It considered declaring a failure of elections in Maguindanao after Atty. Lintang Bedol admitted to losing the Comelecs copy of the municipal CoCs. However, faced with the objections of already proclaimed local officials, including Gov. Ampuan, Abalos went on a fishing expedition in Maguindanao for supporting documents. Comelec authorized the special provincial canvassing of the second copy of the municipal CoCs, the copy that is posted for public viewing for two days unguarded, that it gathered a month after election day. The Abalos Comelec thus legitimized the highly questionable TU win of 12-0 originally reported by Atty. Bedol. It flip-flopped on its position regarding the integrity of the canvassing of the Magunidanao votes in order to deliver to Mrs. Arroyos candidate, Mr. Zubiri, his fake victory. Meanwhile Comelec has been dragging its feet in collaring Atty. Bedol despite loud noises from Commissioners Abalos and Ferrer that they would nail him.

Ret. Col. Gerry Cunanan, KontraDaya convenor, said that no less than Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo must be held liable for the electoral fiasco in Maguindanao and the ARMM. Mrs. Arroyo vowed to leave as her legacy a clean and honest electoral process that would result in unquestioned results. Since the 2004 Hello Garci scandal to the shameless rigging of the votes in Maguindanao, Mrs. Arroyo has proven she is not interested in any serious electoral reform. How can she when she is in cahoots with Abalos in dagdag-bawas and other forms of cheating and her administration is the direct beneficiary of the fraudulent elections, then and now.

Antonio Tinio, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) chair and KontraDaya convenor said, Malacaang is in a state of denial that the victory of opposition senators and of progressive party-list groups in the May elections is a clear repudiation of the Arroyo administration. Humihirit pa. Arroyo wants a Zubiri win and Abalos is doing everything, no matter how patently illegal to do her bidding.

Dizon also called on the incoming Opposition senators to initiate a thorough investigation into the rampant irregularities and massive fraud in the 2007 elections. Without pinpointing responsibility and going after the guilty parties including Abalos, legislated reforms in the electoral system, including automation, will be meaningless. We will have a repeat of the cheating and violence that characterized the 2004 and 2007 polls.

Dizon said that Abalos is accountable for his failure to relieve election officials like Lintang Bedol, Rey Sumalipao, Renault Macarambon and Jubiel Surmieda, all assigned to the ARMM and closely identified with former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano of the Hello Garci fame. Bedol should be put behind bars; at the minimum, all of them must be administratively charged, asserted Dizon.

Dizon also called on the accredited citizens groups, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and National Movement for Free Elections, to file appropriate charges against erring Comelec officials. He said that they are in the right position to file cases against Maguindanao election officials since they were able to witness, first-hand, election irregularities including being denied entry to canvassing areas and being denied their copies of election returns. Dizon said, There has been no closure in the 2004 Hello Garci scandal. There can be no closure in the 2007 electoral fraud unless the cheaters, starting with those in the Comelec, are made to account for their crimes. Their patron, Gloria Arroyo, will find that the election fraud in 2004 and 2007 wont easily be forgotten and will further weigh down her lameduck administration.###

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