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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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

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.

By conceding early, Garci up to no good, say 2 senators

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr., Michael Lim Ubac
Inquirer
Last updated 06:14am (Mla time) 05/17/2007
MANILA, Philippines — Two opposition senators believe there is more than meets the eye in former Election Commissioner Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano’s decision to quickly concede defeat in his congressional bid in the first district of Bukidnon province.

“Either he wants to project that he’s not capable of cheating, which nobody will believe, or some Malacañang wise guys are up to something fishy that needs his full-time attention and hands-on expertise,” reelectionist Sen. Panfilo Lacson said in a phone interview.

“In both cases, he had to concede early to be effective.”

In a statement, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said: “Garcillano’s concession of defeat this early is not a sign of sportsmanship but an offer of his availability to work for Team Unity (TU) candidates by means fair or foul, of which he has expertise.”

The Philippine Daily Inquirer tried to get Garcillano’s reaction to Lacson’s and Pimentel’s claims but text messages to him drew no replies.

Garcillano became an indelible part of Philippine election history after the release in 2005 of the so-called “Hello Garci” tapes dealing with his supposed wiretapped phone conversations with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on rigging the results of the 2004 presidential election.

In defense of Garci

Both Ms Arroyo and Garcillano denied they were involved in cheating.

Garcillano’s friend, Surigao del Sur Rep. Prospero Pichay Jr., who is running for the Senate, Wednesday took the cudgels for the former election official.

“If he cannot cheat for himself, how can he cheat for others? Tama na (Enough already),” Pichay said on the phone.

He called on the opposition to “stop prosecuting” his friend.

“He’s been persecuted too much. Let’s give him a rest. If he really cheated in 2004, he could have won this election by cheating,” Pichay said.

Vulnerable areas

With Garcillano’s defeat in the congressional race in Bukidnon, “the issue of Garci tapes should be laid to rest,” Pichay said. “Let us move forward.”

He added: “Natalo na nga aapakan pa nyo (Don’t kick a man when he’s down). Where is your heart?”

Lacson said the opposition’s poll watchers were training their sights on vulnerable areas during the canvassing, where he claimed switching of election returns, or vote tallies, was likely to take place.

These include the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and areas in Visayas and Mindanao where administration candidates ran unopposed, he said.

“ARMM itself has 2 million votes and it can make a difference between winning and losing for candidates hovering between the 10th and 15th spots,” Lacson said.

‘Cheating machinery’

“Based on past experiences, the elections there will only start after the counting has taken place. The elections are bid out there per vote for as much as you need to overcome the lead because people there normally leave the national posts blank and fill up only the governor and other local posts.”

Pimentel claimed the “cheating machinery” of the Arroyo administration was now at work in Mindanao.

“I have received information that operators identified with the Comelec (Commission on Elections) arrived in Davao Tuesday. They are farming out to Davao and other Mindanao provinces to cause delay in the canvass of the votes to save TU bets from a massacre,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel has lambasted Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. for his refusal to penalize election supervisors allegedly involved in “dagdag-bawas” (vote-padding and -shaving) operations in the 2004 elections.

Worse, Pimentel said, these poll officials were even promoted.