May 30, 2007 at 6:29 am
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.
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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