SC acts quickly and then sleeps

SC acts quickly and then sleeps

‘It cannot happen that the Court acts quickly when it so pleases and does not move at all when doing so does not please the magistrates.’

IT did not take the Supreme Court that much time to deny for “lack of merit” the motion of the heirs of Severino Manotok to require the Court of Appeals to furnish the Manotoks a copy of the 219-page report of its findings on the land case with the heirs of Homer Barque.

The resolution was passed on May 4.

The lawyers of the Manotoks filed a second motion for reconsideration within the 15-day reglamentary period. Up to this time, the motion has not been acted upon.

In insisting that the litigants in the case are entitled to a copy of the CA report, former Supreme Court Justice Florentino P. Feliciano, counsel of the Manotoks, told the High Court there is a law that states that “upon filing of the report, the parties shall be notified by the clerk, and they shall be allowed ten days within which to signify grounds of objections to the findings of the report, if they so desire.

“Objections to the report based upon grounds which were available to the parties during the proceedings before the commissioner, other than objections to the findings and conclusions therein set forth, shall not be considered by the Court unless they were made before the commissioner.”

The decision to deny the motion for lack of merit does not seem to sit well with this provision of the law.

But the Supreme Court saw it another way.

Now, a second motion has not been acted upon and appears to be sleeping the sleep of the dead.

It cannot happen that the Court acts quickly when it so pleases and does not move at all when doing so does not please the magistrates.

The judicial reconstitution case was earlier decided in favor of the heirs of Severino Manotok by the Land Registration Commission. The LRA reversed its ruling on appeal by the heirs of Homer Barque.

The Manotoks elevated the case to the Court of Appeals which initially ruled in favor of the Manotoks. But in a joint resolution by two divisions, the CA reversed its earlier decision in favor of the heirs of Homer Barque.

The Manotoks went to the Supreme Court on Appeal. The High Court ruled in favor of the heirs of Homer Barque and denied with finality a second motion for reconsideration.

However, retired Justice Feliciano convinced the Court to act en banc.

After brief orals, the Supreme Court decided to remand case to the Court of Appeals for investigation of facts and presumably applicable laws.

Subsequently, the CA submitted its 219-page report which the Supreme Court must now consider or resolve.

The first mistake in this case was the violation of a law that states that judicial reconstitution is an original and exclusive function of the Regional Trial Court.

It started with the Land Registration Commission which rendered a decision in favor of the heirs of Severino Manotok. The decision was reversed on appeal.

The Manotoks filed an appeal with the Court of Appeals which also sustained the Manotoks in a joint resolution by two of its divisions.

The Supreme Court reversed the decision and declared that the title(s) of the Manotoks are “sham and spurious”.

This has been the subject of an intense battle of documents between the Manotoks and the heirs of Homer Barque represented by Teresita Barque.

Apart from asking the Supreme Court to require the CA to furnish the litigants a copy of the report, the heirs of Severino Manotok are also asking the High Tribunal for a hearing on oral argument which they say “will best ensure an interactive deliberation upon the novel issues and legal implications arising from the ‘remand’ proceedings at the Court of Appeals many of which were neither pleaded nor addressed in the original administrative reconstitution proceedings that were the only subject of this case on review.”

Yet, the Supreme Court dismissed the motion to require the CA to furnish copies of its report to the litigants “for lack of merit.”

What else could have more merit than the very meat of the controversy? That is not the way the Supreme Court sees it.

The case has horrendous ramifications in reconstituting land titles in terms of facts and applicable laws.

It will be recalled that the heirs of Homer Barque moved for reconstitution of the 34-hectare prime property in Quezon City, long in possession of the heirs of Severino Manotok, only some years after the records, particularly original copies of land titles, burned in a fire hit the office of the Register of Deeds in Quezon City.

The Manotoks have submitted in evidence a copy of the deed of conveyance certified as true and correct by the National Archives.

The deed, issued by the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources on December 7, 1932, states “I, acting director of the bureau of lands, acting for and on behalf of the Government of the Philippine Islands, in consideration of TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED SIXTY THREE PESOS (P2,363.00), receipt hereof is acknowledged, do hereby grant and convey to Severino Manotok, Filipino, of legal age, married to Maria Ramos … and his heirs and assigns, Lot No. 823 of the Piedad Friar Lands estate…”

The document was signed by Jose P. Dans, acting director of the bureau of lands.

How the courts accepted the claim of the heirs of Homer Barque that the title of the Manotoks is “sham and spurious” without destroying or rendering invalid the deed of conveyance is a subject of unkind speculations in many quarters, particularly those who have who have reconstitution cases pending in the Courts.

And now comes the Supreme Court denying the request of the Manotoks to have copies of the report of the Court of Appeals to which the case was remanded “for lack of merit.”

The Court has no obligation to explain its decision since right or wrong, the ruling becomes part of the law of the land. But in this case, it would benefit the Court in terms of enhancing its reputation if this case can be resolved with transparency and fairness which is always assumed of the Court but does not always happen.

There is more than meets the eye in the Manotok case in terms of its ramifications over judicial reconstitution of titles.


Sounds familiar for the Manotok family

This article written by Mr. Rod Fajardo III is very familiar to the Manotok Family. Like the University of the Philippines (UP), the Manotok family are being victimized by land-grabbing scammers or land-grabbing syndicates. The Manotoks have been in-possession of a large track of land for 85 years and actually have been occupying the said property for all these decades. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, and conveniently… “the case actually started with the burning of the Quezon City Hall sometime in 1988. The documents under the custody of the Register of Deeds were burned. Thus, arose the necessity of reconstituting documents, specially land titles”.

If there was no Fire, then clearly the Manotoks, who are in possession and are occupying the land,… would not have to face the land-grabbing syndicates who are armed with fake and forged documents.

CLAMPDOWN: UP goes after land grabbers
Rod P. Fajardo III

The Supreme Court made it plain enough when—for the nth time in September 2004—it upheld with finality the ownership of the University of the Philippines over its campus in Diliman, Quezon City. “We strongly admonish courts and unscrupulous lawyers to stop entertaining spurious cases seeking further to assail UP’s title,” it warned. “These cases open the dissolute avenues of graft to unscrupulous land-grabbers who prey like vultures upon the campus of UP. By such actions, they wittingly or unwittingly aid the hucksters who want to earn a quick buck by misleading the gullible to buy the Philippine counterpart of the proverbial London Bridge.”

If there is a hint of exasperation in the way the decision was worded, it must be because the Court is tired of repeating itself over the same issue for almost fifty years now. It first declared that UP is the rightful owner of the Diliman campus on October 31, 1959. Since then, it has decided eight more similar cases with the same verdict.

Even the Land Registration Authority (LRA) has set the record straight. In a report issued by its Verification Committee in August 1984, the LRA traced the origin of UP’s Transfer Certificate Title (TCT) No. 9462 which covers the University’s Diliman campus to the TCT No. 36048 of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Apparently, the Philippine Government executed a deed of sale in favor of UP on March 1, 1949 relative to TCT No. 36048. Thus, TCT No. 36048 was cancelled in lieu of TCT No. 9462 issued in the name of UP.

Going by these judicial declarations, UP should not have a problem with chasing away illegal settlers.
Yet this is not the case. In the past decades, UP has been busy keeping land grabbers at bay. It’s almost funny how all these claimants come out of the woodwork, their bogus papers matched only by their absurd claims.

But this is exactly what alarms UP. Where are these fake documents coming from? How do the claimants get hold of them? Armed with fake titles, they are able to get their day in court no matter if their claims run from the incredulous to the hilarious. Some of these claimants even manage to elevate their arguments to the Court of Appeals, and quite a few to the Supreme Court itself.

Is there an invisible hand that orchestrates these relentless and seemingly organized land-grabbing attacks against the UP property?

Unholy crusade

Only this October, for example, UP won a favorable decision from the Quezon City Regional Trial Court against St. Mary’s Crusade to Alleviate Poverty of Brethren Foundation Inc., which seeks the reconstitution of a parcel of land in Quezon City with an area of 4,304,623 square meters. The claim apparently encompasses the 493-hectare Diliman property.

St. Mary’s Crusade claims that the land area in question is covered by Original Certificate Title (OCT) No. 1609 which is owned by one Marcelino Tiburcio. On November 26, 1985, Tiburcio supposedly executed a Deed of Transfer and Conveyance of OCT No. 1609 in favor of St. Mary Village Association, Inc. It is based on this alleged Deed of Transfer and Conveyance that St. Mary’s Crusade is now laying claim over the property.

Interestingly, in 1989, an entity named St. Mary Village Association, Inc. filed a petition seeking the annulment of UP’s titles to its Diliman property based on an alleged Spanish grant issued on March 25, 1877 in favor of one Eladio Tiburcio. The trial court dismissed the petition on January 31, 1990.
The people behind St. Mary’s Crusade admit that they do not have the original certificate but they do have a technical description of the property in question, duly certified as correct by the National Archives of the Philippines and a certification issued by the Land Management Bureau of Manila. How did they get past these government agencies? But what the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs finds most curious is that these claimants refuse to identify in their petition all the persons that they claim would benefit from the property. Who exactly are these people?

A check on the background of the people behind St. Mary’s Crusade reveals that they are all residents of the Diliman campus, presently living in the housing area allotted by UP for its qualified personnel under its housing program. All but one of the petitioners had been former UP employees who had availed of and qualified for housing privileges. These employees subsequently resigned or retired from active service but refused to leave their respective housing units. They are, in short, illegal tenants, and therefore subject to eviction.

Monomania of lands
And then there’s the perplexing case of Prince Julian Morden Tallano. Here is a man who claims to be a descendant of King Luisong Tagean whose sons supposedly included Rajah Soliman and Lapu-Lapu. (This alleged filial relationship between Soliman and Lapu-Lapu—two prominent figures in the country’s history—has apparently escaped the attention of historians for it is not mentioned in textbooks.) And by virtue of his lineage, Tallano is now asserting ownership over several land titles. OCT No. T-01-4, for example, covers the whole archipelago and its four regions: Luzon, Visayas, Palawan-Zamboanga embracing Kalayaan and Sabah, and Mindanao. TCT No. T-408, on the other hand, covers 1.253 billion square meters of Metro Manila.

What is even more baffling is that despite the patent absurdities of such claims, the Court of First Instance (CFI) of Pasay City allegedly promulgated on November 4, 1975 an Order for Reconstitution of TCT No. T-408 and OCT No. T-01-4 , among other titles, in favor of Gregorio Madrigal Acopiado, Tallano’s supposed great great grandfather. As in the case of St. Mary’s Crusade, the original copy of the said decision was reportedly lost or, more specifically, destroyed in a fire that gutted the Pasay City Hall on January 18, 1992. Tallano’s group, however, claims they have a true copy of the decision certified by the Office of the Solicitor General.

In 2005, Tallano and a certain Anacleto Madrigal Acopiado filed with the Regional Trial Court Branch 220 of Quezon City a petition for the enforcement of the CFI-Pasay City’s 1975 decision. Acopiado insisted that by virtue of said judgment, UP’s TCT over its Diliman campus is null and void. Thus, UP should reconvey ownership over its Diliman property to the Acopiados.

Convinced that the alleged CFI judgment was secured through fraud, the UP System Office of Legal Affairs sought the assistance of the Office of the Solicitor General and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to determine the true identity of the claimants. In a report dated June 10, 2005, the NBI declared that Julian Morden Tallano is not a prince but an impostor who, many times in the past, had assumed different identities and provided different addresses with the evident aim of defrauding other people. Tallano, who turned out to be a native of Nueva Ecija, was also found to be the subject of several warrants of arrest for estafa, falsification of documents, and swindling, among many others.

The identity of Anacleto Madrigal Acopiado, meanwhile, could only be established by an altered death certificate issued by the Local Civil Registrar of Taguig, Manila on November 28, 1994. Moreover, the NBI could not find any document to prove that Don Gregorio Madrigal Acopiado exists or ever existed.

Cracking the whip
There are countless other spurious claims over the ownership of the UP Diliman campus currently docketed in trial courts. And, as long as equally spurious documents are readily available from the black market, many more are expected to come out.

This is the reason UP is going beyond asserting its ownership over its property. UP is now determined to go after these organized land-grabbing factions who are growing ever more brazen.

More PIPC scam victims flock to NBI

By Joel San Juan

MORE victims of a new multimillion-dollar financial scam are now surfacing before the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in a bid to file a class suit against the incorporators of Performance Investments Products Corp. (PIPC), accused of foisting an investment scam.

Lawyer John John Felipe, who is representing five of the complainants against PIPC, said many victims plan to join the class suit being poised against the Singaporean owner of PIPC, identified as Michael H.K. Liew and its general manager, Cristina Gonzalez-Tuason.

However, Felipe asked mediamen to withhold the names of his clients until an official complaint is lodged with the NBI.

Felipe accompanied some of the victims to the NBI office in Manila to seek help in investigating PIPC’s business transactions, and in recovering the money they invested in its foreign exchange trading scheme.

The lawyer said PIPC may be held liable for “fraudulent misrepresentation” since it is only registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a research company.

“We want to find out if this company is really allowed to engage in foreign-exchange trading and to recruit people to invest in its business scheme,” Felipe said.

Felipe noted that PIPC started circulating information that its investors’ funds of more than US$250 million was missing, and could have been diverted by Liew to his personal accounts in other countries only after authorities unearthed the illegal online pyramiding scheme perpetrated by Francswiss.

“At the height of the Francswiss scandal, a great number of PIPC investors started pulling out their money from the company; after several days Tuason reported that Liew is missing along with the investors’ money,” Felipe added.

NBI Interpol supervising agent Dominador Villanueva III also admitted that well-known law firms have called up his office to inform him of possible filing of suits against PIPC incorporators.

“Some of the investors have apparently tapped big-time law firms to represent them. We are just waiting for them to come here and pursue the filing of charges,” Villanueva said.

Under the scheme, investors were required to shell out a minimum of US$40,000 with a promised 12 percent to 15 percent return on investment annually.

Those who could not produce the minimum amount were allowed to have partners in order to produce it. Many are residents of posh Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village in Makati City.

The PIPC has asked the investors to attend a general meeting this Thursday at Citibank’s office in Makati City.


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:


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!



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