Did Rene Sarmiento resign because of this?

Look of the Year

The “Look of the Year” award should go to Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento when he was confronted by ABS-CBN News Channel correspondent Ricky Carandang with the video he got of election returns being transported to Maria Cristina Hotel in Iligan City last Monday.

That “look” was captured vividly on TV and seen here and abroad.

It was nakakahiya. A Comelec official caught covering up for something that his people were trying to hide.

Carandang and fellow ANC correspondent Noel Alamar chanced upon bundles of election returns being transferred to the hotel facilitated by Jubil Surmieda of the Comelec’s legal department.

Under Comelec rules, election returns should be under the safe-keeping of the provincial treasurer.

In Carandang’s explosive report, he asked Sarmiento about the transported ER’s and he denied it. When told that the ERS were in the hotel, he and Surmieda, who acted like more like a thug rather than a Comelec official, Sarmiento still denied it.

But when Carandang showed the video he took of the ERs being hauled to the hotel’s elevator, Sarmiento grappled for a justification. He looked pathetic. He said the transfer was upon his orders to make sure that the documents would not be used to rig the special elections in parts of the province. The provincial treasurer, however, said she did not know about Sarmiento’s orders.

When asked by Carandang, why he would entrust custody of the important documents to a group of Comelec officials that included Renault “Boy” Macarambon, Sarmiento reacted sharply and talked about “due process”.

Macarambon is a Comelec lawyer who was detailed in the office of Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in 2004.

If Sarmiento is wondering why the public distrusts Macarambon, may we refer him to the transcript of the Hello Garci tapes especially the conversations on May 25, 2004, 7:52 p.m.

In that conversation that Garcillano was having with a certain “Danny”, they were talking about 40,000 more votes needed. And as of that day, they already had 39,000. Remember that this conversation was almost two weeks after election.

Danny and Garci were talking about Cotabato City and Lanao del Sur.

Danny said, in the six municipalities “panalo daw siya doon”.

Garcillano said, “Mananalo siya talaga. Nandoon si Louie…Macarambon eh.

For all we know, Sarmiento knows all these very well. Like he knew about the transfer of the custody of the ERs to Surmieda and Macarambon. He has become one of them.

Related report:

ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs condemned Tuesday the death threats received by its television anchorman and radio reporter in connection with stories they filed from the special elections held in Lanao del Sur over the weekend.

“ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs condemns, in the strongest possible terms, these attempts to intimidate the members of our Newsgathering team. We would also like to warn those involved that their identities are known to us,” said Maria Ressa, head of the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. Click here for full report.

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ABS-CBN reporters get death threats

ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs condemned Tuesday the death threats received by its television anchorman and radio reporter in connection with stories they filed from the special elections held in Lanao del Sur over the weekend.

“ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs condemns, in the strongest possible terms, these attempts to intimidate the members of our Newsgathering team. We would also like to warn those involved that their identities are known to us,” said Maria Ressa, head of the ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs.

Ressa said that the threats against Rickcy Carandang of cable news channel ANC and DZMM Radyo Patrol reporter Noel Alamar came after the two filed exclusive reports from Lanao del Sur.

“We are prepared to take legal action should these threats continue or should any harm come to Mr. Carandang, Mr. Alamar or any members of ABS-CBN News & Current Affairs,” Ressa said.

Carandang and Alamar had reported that a group of officers from the Commission on Elections took over custody of blank election returns from the Lanao del Sur provincial treasurer’s office in Marawi City on Sunday.

One of the poll officials was identified as Renault “Boy” Macarambon, a personality mentioned in the “Hello, Garci” recordings.

Footage taken over the weekend showed COMELEC officers hauling the ERs to Maria Cristina Hotel in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, which is an hour and a half drive away from the provincial capitol of Lanao del Sur.

The Hello, Garci recordings alleged that former COMELEC commissioner Virgilio Garcillano masterminded election-rigging in the 2004 presidential election in favor of President Arroyo.

The COMELEC’s Rene Sarmiento, commissioner-in-charge for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said he ordered officials to take custody of the ERs to ensure that they would not be used to rig the special elections in parts of Lanao del Sur.

On second thought

Alamar had reported that Sarmiento denied ordering the transfer of the ERs. Sarmiento issued another statement contrary to his first after viewing he ABS-CBN footage. Officers of the provincial treasurer’s office said they were not informed about Sarmiento’s orders regarding the transfer.

Sarmiento said there was nothing unusual about the blank ERs being kept in a hotel for safekeeping. He said the ERs were taken into custody by a special elections officer who was then staying at the hotel.

“These are blank ERs, which should not be left in Marawi City or anywhere else. These are his responsibility since these are accountable forms,” he told DZMM.

“I’m willing to resign if it is proven that it is irregular,” he added in an interview with Alamar.

Sarmiento added that the ERs were transferred to the hotel after a brownout and heavy rains hit Marawi after the special elections.

The blank ERs were initially distributed to provincial treasurers, who in turn would have to distribute the documents to municipal treasurers and then eventually distributed to BEIs.

ERs are used as basis for tallies. These are also used as basis for the certificates of canvass brought before the COMELEC’s National Board of Canvassers.

On Monday Sarmiento resigned as head of the poll body’s Task Force Maguindanao which was tasked to investigate poll fraud in the province.

Sarmiento cited health reasons saying he cannot physically head the investigation after overseeing the conduct of special elections in some areas in ARMM, including 13 municipalities of Lanao del Sur province, over the weekend.

Sarmiento added that he would have to concentrate on resolving problems that occurred during the special elections. Aside from Lanao del Sur, he said he would have to resolve some problems in the elections held in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Sharif Kabunsuan provinces.

Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer has since replaced Sarmiento as task force chief.

Rene Sarmiento: Why resign as Task Force Maguindanao Head?

 This looks highly irregular. This move by Sarmiento will be raising eye-brows…

Poll commissioner Rene Sarmiento resigned Monday as head of a Commission on Elections-formed task force investigating alleged election fraud in Maguindanao province.

Sarmiento, commissioner-in-charge for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said he is resigning as head of Task Force Maguindanao due to health reasons.

He said he cannot physically head the investigation after overseeing the conduct of special elections in some areas in ARMM, including 13 municipalities of Lanao del Sur province, over the weekened. He said COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos should turn over his task to another commissioner.

Sarmiento added that he would have to concentrate on resolving problems that occurred during the special elections. Aside from Lanao del Sur, he said he would have to resolve some problems in the elections held in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Sharif Kabunsuan provinces.

Abalos ordered the formation of the task force after the legal arm of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) revealed widespread cheating in Maguindanao.

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections, PPCRV’s legal arm, said the Board of Election Inspectors were forced to fill up blank ballots with the names of administration candidates, including members of the Team Unity senatorial ticket. Initial reports from COMELEC officers earlier revealed that TU senatorial bets swept the elections in the province.

NAMFREL said its volunteers in Maguindanao were barred from polling precincts and were not allowed to witness canvassing. GMANEWS.TV

This is a classic about Tonypet Albano’s screw-ups

This is such a classic!

Goes to show that this Tonypet Albano, from wherever he came from, talks before he thinks. He continues to brag about “Command Votes” and “Baluartes” which will give 12-0 votes for Team Unity without thinking that his 12-0 boasts just goes to show that these cheats are stealing the “freedom of choice” from the people by making these free people (by force or by cash or whatever else means) vote for people against their true and free will.

AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR – By William Esposo

Opposition spokesman Adel Tamano has endeared himself to media and is now the subject of talk that he could be the topnotcher of the next senatorial elections. Tamano’s cool demeanor and his facility at expounding the Opposition’s position in a simple, concise and credible way make him a natural winner before the public eye.

Ironically, Tamano’s greatest unwitting image booster is his counterpart in the administration camp – Tonypet Albano. Albano provides the perfect contrast to create more attention to Tamano’s depth of thought, substance, style and projection. While Tamano complies with media guru Marshal McLuhan’s prescription for television style and form, Albano projects the example of the opposite.

McLuhan established the parameters for effective television projection. The media guru referred to television as the cool medium and radio as the hot medium. To thrive in the cool medium, one is advised to speak a decibel lower than normal conversation and to gesticulate in a subdued manner. You’ll see this in the calculated coolness of American TV anchors.

If they had television in the 1930s during Hitler’s rise to power, the German Fuehrer would self-destruct on the cool medium. Hitler’s style of public speaking was perfect for radio and the big crowded public plazas – but totally unsuitable for television. If seen and heard on television, Hitler’s passionate oratory will come across as a cacophonous and hostile assault on people in the very privacy and peace of their homes.

Tonypet Albano’s communication style happens to be as offensive as having an outsider puking in our living rooms. As Team Unity deputy spokesman, he has shown to us the kind of behavior associated with bad-mannered ruffians. Instead of focusing on addressing very serious issues hurled against the Arroyo regime, he instead resorted to coarse name-calling and personal insults.

When I took Albano to task in a previous column for subscribing to the lowest level of cheap name calling, he had the cheek to write a long rejoinder which the STAR accommodated in the spirit of equal space. It was the oddest rejoinder I’ve ever encountered in that it merely reinforced all the issues I raised.

I suppose Albano’s psychological coping behavior to cover for his lack of substance and credibility is to refer to his vocabulary of sneering remarks and name-calling. After all, how far can you go in defending a regime that has lost credibility and respect? Hence, without ammunition to rebut the slew of issues coming their way, the easiest recourse for Albano is to launch personal attacks on the other person.

Last Thursday, Albano branded Adel Tamano a “racist” when the latter expressed his disbelief over the development that Chavit Singson, a non-Muslim and non-Mindanaon, tallied the highest votes in Maguindanao (in Muslim Mindanao). In so doing, Singson accomplished the unprecedented feat of topping Jamalul Kiram, who is a Muslim and a Mindanaoan, and Migz Zubiri and Prospero Pichay who are also from Mindanao.

Tamano’s point is logical as it is valid. It’s no different from Caloocan’s Recom Echiverri beating Tommy Osmeña for Mayor of Cebu City.

Albano did not even know what issue to pick because “racist” does not even relate to what he wanted to establish. Between Singson and Kiram, there is no race issue. Both are Filipinos. Both are from the same Malay stock. Between Singson and Kiram, there is a difference of religion. Singson is a Christian while Kiram is a Muslim. If there is an issue at all, it would have been bigotry, not racism.

After Tamano made note of that embarrassing, glaring error the next day in a DZMM interview, Albano attempted damage control and rehashed his non-issue, this time calling it bigotry.

Last Tuesday, Tonypet Albano was carping about “trending” allegedly being done by the ABS-CBN-STI quick count. He also suggested that the quick count should be sourced equally from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao – one-third from each island group.

People were wondering what Albano was fussing about when in fact elections were over and additional votes can only be done by dagdag-bawas – not quick counts. There’s “trending” if you manufacture a pre-election survey in order to pre-condition the public mind to accept a certain candidate who is about to win by cheating.

Albano betrayed his ignorance when he also suggested that tally reports coming from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao should be released in equal measure. What he wants will actually create distorted results because of the differences of voting population. Luzon accounts for about 65% of national votes. In order to reflect a representative count, 65% of the reports should come from Luzon.

If Albano fears that the Opposition will get more votes via the quick count, then he is dense because the voting has ended. If he is attempting to remove all indicators of what the real vote was in order to pave the way for administration cheating – then he may be smarter than he sounds.

I really wonder if Albano is not being setup by Team Unity to mouth the ridiculous non-issues that they are desperately trying to raise lately. Perhaps, they now find it convenient to make him verbalize the issues and personal insults that they personally would not want to mouth themselves.

On this “racist” insult hurled by Albano, Tamano stated: “Mr. Albano has called me a liar, gay, and corrupt and I have chosen not to reply to those insults.”

Adel Tamano must be a student of history. He seems to be following Napoleon’s advice: “Never interrupt your opponent when he is making a mistake.”

Chair Wrecker e-mail: macesposo@yahoo.com

The COMELEC is killing TRANSPARENCY

What is the COMELEC so afraid of? If they have nothing to hide, they should let the media in every single precint and to allow the media to give up-to-date reports… instead, the COMELEC is trying its best to “shut-up” people.

Now with this new article, the COMELEC is “scaring” away honest people who only want to do good… perfect example of shooting the messenger. It clearly shows that Abalos is threatening people in the way… “do not come out, do not say the truth, do not expose the COMELEC’s conspiracy”.

The COMELEC is 101% not being transparent and the COMELEC is not doing its job!

COMELEC TO CHARGE PEOPLE MAKING FALSE ALARMING REPORTS 

 

Amita Legaspi, GMANews.TV

05/22/2007 | 04:25 PM

Commission on Elections chairman Benjamin Abalos on Tuesday warned that those giving “false and alarming” reports will be charged with violation of election laws.

“It is an election offense. Let us be cautious (with what we say with the media). Those who give this unverified and unvalidated reports should not be left unpunished,” Abalos said.

Carlos Medina, co-convenor of the lawyers group Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente), earlier exposed alleged poll fraud in Maguindanao where teachers, at gunpoint, were told to fill up ballots with the names of Team Unity senatorial candidates. The administration’s senatorial bets scored a 12-0 sweep, with masive leads over the opposition, in elections in the southern Philippines province.

Abalos noted that Medina got the information when a person who identified himself as a teacher called up a radio station, where the lawyer was a guest.

“We are not even sure if the person who called is really a teacher,” the Comelec chairman said.

“It was just a phone conversation. How did you know if he really is member of the Board of Election Inspectors. That is what we are looking at,” he added.

He said the Task Force Maguindanao will not only focus on the allegations but also on the possibility that there was an intentional effort “to destroy the essence of efforts to have a clean election.” -GMANews.TV

http://www.gmanews.tv/story/43404/Comelec-to-charge-people-making-false-alarming-reports

The COMELEC is digging its own grave

With the obvious cover-ups and “non-action” regarding election anomalies, the COMELEC is digging its own grave.

Abalos, instead of listening to the media and the various watch-dogs, is actually just “ignoring” all these obvious and blatant election anomalies.

Why does he want to see “proof” when even a non-lawyer layman can see the obvious signs all-over the news?

Instead of trying to save-face by creating TRANSPARENT ELECTIONS, Abalos is now censuring the media and this is another way of covering-up for this massive election-fraud. He blames the media for brain-washing the people when the media is just doing its job of being transparent by bringing news to the people.

It is in fact the COMELEC that is trying its hardest to brainwash the people into thinking that we have the most peaceful and cleanest elections ever. Well…. the COMELEC’s brainwashing is definitely not working because we the people very well see a major conspiracy of vote-buying, cheating and plain dishonesty which is being covered-up and protected by the COMELEC.

Abalos, resign

Abalos, resign


Editorial


Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos is bewailing the accusations of widespread cheating that took place in some places, especially in Mindanao, during the last elections. While he expressed alarm over the reports, he seems to be more sad over the controversy generated by the cheating than the cheating itself.

He said the allegations are putting into the question the credibility of the whole electoral exercise. The allegations are eroding the public’s trust on the Comelec.

We have news for Abalos. The people’s trust in the Comelec was eroded long before the May 14 elections. Has he already forgotten “Hello Garci”? Or the failure of the Comelec to thoroughly investigate the complicity of its officials in cooking the results to favor Gloria Arroyo? (Some of those officials were even promoted. One was assigned as provincial director for Maguindanao, with predictable results.) Or the gift by the Comelec of P1 billion in taxpayers money to Mega Pacific for an electronic vote-counting contract which the Supreme Court said was anomalously awarded, was overpriced and would not work?

In the run-up to the elections, the Comelec allowed itself to be used by persons who were out to deny Alan Peter Cayetano a seat in the Senate through the fielding of a nuisance.

It disqualified reelectionist Naga Mayor Jess Robredo, a Magsaysay awardee for government service, by declaring him a Chinese. Two of the commissioners who ruled against Robredo, it turned out, were former law partners of a Camarines Sur administration political leader who was fielding a relative against Robredo.

It accredited a clutch of newly surfaced party list groups with links to the Palace and one, purportedly composed of tricycle operators and drivers, whose president and No. 1 nominee is a medical doctor who just happens to be Abalos’ brother.

It played dumb to the suspicious surge in the number of registered voters in areas which were considered bailiwicks of administration. The biggest increases were in the Lanao provinces and Maguindanao where voting did not take place in many municipalities.

After the elections, we’re seeing more of the same. In Biñan, Laguna, canvassing was suspended for alleged irregularities committed by the leading mayoral candidate. Why Biñan when losing candidates practically everywhere were seeking the same relief for the same alleged offenses of the winners? It just so happens that a son-in-law of Abalos was trailing badly in the count.

Abalos and company should stop shedding crocodile tears for the lost credibility of the Comelec. If they sincerely want Comelec to recover its credibility, they should resign.

http://www.malaya.com.ph/may23/edit.htm