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


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


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


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.


The Most Outrageous Excuse by Comelec Yet

After many days of “delaying tactics” or “stalling” and ignoring the “memos for show”, the COMELEC finally thought of some stupid excuse which nobody would believe anyway. Here is the newspaper article which further explains this unbelievable and incredible excuse by Comelec…

Maguindanao poll supervisor: Namfrel volunteers got ERs
By Nash Maulana
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 06:24pm (Mla time) 05/21/2007
COTABATO CITY — The Maguindanao provincial election supervisor insisted on Monday that the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has gotten copies of the election returns (ERs), contrary to claims by the poll watchdog group that ERs had been withheld from their volunteers.

Father Eduardo Tanudtanud, chairman of Namfrel Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan, said the “systematic withholding” of election results has “cast doubt on the integrity” of the tallied votes in the southern Philippine province.

But Maguindanao Provincial Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, who figured in the infamous “Hello Garci” tapes, said based on reports he got from poll officers from the province’s towns, Namfrel volunteers had taken the 6th copy of the ER at the precinct level.

The “Hello Garci” tapes refer to wiretapped conversations allegedly between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over efforts to rig the 2004 polls.

Bedol said those who retrieved the ERs on behalf of the Namfrel were given the 6th copy because they presented Namfrel identification cards.

Bedol said members of the board of election inspectors relied on the IDs presented.

“[Namfrel] has not provided us the list of its volunteers despite persistent request, even prior to the elections,” Bedol said, adding that they had no way to double-check the identities of those who claimed the ERs.

However, Bedol’s statements contradict those of Romy Guiamel, chairman of the Citizens’ Action for Responsible Elections (Care), an affiliate of Namfrel and the Church-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

Guiamel admitted that Namfrel volunteers failed to secure the 6th copy of the election returns as earlier claimed by the Comelec-accredited watchdog.

But Guiamel blamed this on a lack of coordination between volunteers and the Comelec.

Guiamel said the failure of Namfrel volunteers to secure their ER copies happened not only in Maguindanao but all over the region as well.

But Guiamel said elections indeed took place in Maguindanao. He said residents of Maguindanao trooped to their polling precincts on Election Day and cast their votes.

“Many people trooped to their precincts to cast their votes. There were elections in Maguindanao and we knew it took place because we have volunteers in the province,” he said.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and concerned individuals told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of the INQUIRER.net, that balloting did not take place in many parts of the province.

The reports surfaced when results showed that a 12-0 sweep by Team Unity in Maguindanao, with Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson topping the list.

Reelectionist Governor Andal Ampatuan’s slate was unopposed in all but one Maguindanao town.

Norie Unas, Ampatuan’s spokesperson, explained that there was nothing unusual in the TU sweep as bloc voting on the call of a leader was acceptable political action for Muslims in Maguindanao.

Unas said that among Muslims, the decision of the leader was highly respected.

In this case, Unas said Ampatuan supported TU senatorial candidates after conducting shura or consultation with the people.

He said the choice was respected by the voters because Ampatuan was both the governor and spiritual leader of Maguindanaoans.

Guiamel said his group was able to monitor the conduct of elections in Maguindanao, which was generally peaceful, because it fielded volunteers all over the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He said the fielding of the volunteers was in cooperation with Namfrel and PPCRV.

Does the COMELEC still have any credibility?

With so many anomalous and very questionable events ongoing in the provinces like Maguindanao, the COMELEC seems to be “covering-up” for the people in power.

Why can’t they give the 6th copy of the ER to NAMFREL? What are they hiding from NAMFREL or the other Poll watchers?

This act alone just clearly proves that there is NO TRANSPARENCY in most areas in Mindanao. Why do “they” focus their “cheating machinery” in Mindanao?

NAMFREL did the right thing in declaring that they will not “count” the ER’s from Maguindanao. First of all, due to the anomalous delay, the ER’s are most likely tampered-with already. Even if the ER’s do “miraculously show-up”, how do we know if it is authentic?

In everyone’s eyes, these INTENTIONALLY-HIDDEN ER’S should not be counted even by COMELEC and if these ER’s do show-up (after the tampering), the COMELEC has a lot of “explaining” to do regarding the delay.

Only the dumbest of the dumb… would believe that these ER’s are still authentic.