Saturday, October 14, 2006

Catholic Bishops Call For Comelec Purge

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has zero credibilty to conduct a free and credible elections with the present leadership and manpower. They are corrupt and partisans. Total revamp or purge of the Comelec from top to bottom to restore its credibility to conduct electoral exercises. Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. had shown his true colors during the rigged 2004 presidential election. He was involved in dagdag-bawas (vote shaving) scheme cover-up and over printing of security ballots and certificate of canvassers (COC)’s.

More Evidence Lanao Electoral Fraud 2004

CBCP calls for Comelec purge

By Marie A. Surbano

DAILY TRIBUNE 10/15/2006

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has joined the public’s call for Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners to resign, for the poll body to regain its credibility, as the 2007 senatorial and local elections are near.

The CBCP fears the results may not be seen as credible by the Filipino people if the Comelec remains in the hands of the same commissioners who have been absolved by the Ombudsman of any criminal, civil and administrative liability for the botched automation machine deal with Mega Pacific Consortium (MPC), which was declared null and void by the Supreme Court.

The best way for the Comelec to restore its credibility, the CBCP said, through its spokesman, is to have an honest-to-goodness purge of the poll body.

“It (the Comelec) has to be clean, because if the tree is polluted, the branches and down the line will also be polluted, CBCP spokesman Msgr. Pedro Quitorio pointed out, in expressing the church’s disappointment on the ruling of the Ombudsman clearing all the officials and officers involved in the ACM deal.

The Ombudsman, in clearing all of them, including the officers of the MPC, claimed that “not a single iota of evidence” showed any guilt on the part of those accused.

Yet, the same Ombudsman earlier, in compliance with a high court order, charged one commissioner, Resureccion Borra of criminal liability in the same deal with MPC, and even recommended for him to be impeached, while recommending graft charges to be filed against the retired commissioners who were said to have been involved in the anomalous deal.

Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez also informed the high court then that she is still looking into the criminal liabilities of the other commissioners and other parties involved in the anomalous deal.

Yet when she finally came up with her final findings, she said there was not a single iota of evidence, including proof of malice, found to merit their being recommended for impeachment or even graft charges.

To date, Gutierrez has not explained her turn-around on the Borra indictment and his subsequent absolution.

The Ombudsman’s absolution has not sat well with many sectors of society, who believe that Gutierrez was acting under the presidential couple’s orders to cover up the original crime of massive poll fraud that enabled President Arroyo to win the polls.

Quitorio noted that with the question on the electoral fraud and the botched deal between the poll body and the Comelec, finding a “one shot” solution would be impossible.

According to the CBCP spokesman, the botched automation deal is just one of the many failures which the Comelec has committed, which is why it has lost its credibility as an impartial and independent election body.

And as such, the Comelec cannot possibly conduct credible elections now or in the future.

“From the start it had already lost its credibility,” Quitorio said referring to the May 2004 elections where Abalos during the canvassing of senatorial votes announced that Mrs. Arroyo was leading by one million votes over presidential candidate opposition Fernando Poe Jr.

This was well before the congressional National Board of Canvassers even met to canvass the presidential vote, and even when the last two to three senatorial candidates’ votes were as yet not counted.

Yet in the end, Mrs. Arroyo’s vote count lead was over a million, as predicted by Abalos.

There was too, the expose of the massive poll fraud in 2004, when the infamous Hello Garci tapes, which had the tapped conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and her poll fraud operator, former poll commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, discussing the cheating operations, where she was also caught saying that she should win by a million votes.

Asked what would be the best way by which the Comelec could regain its credibility and integrity after the controversial “Hello Garci” scandal and the MPC- voided contract, Quitorio said “there is no viable solution right now”.

Moreover, Quitorio pointed out that since it is obvious that Comelec is leaning toward the Arroyo administration, whatever the poll body would do would always be suspect.

But he said that if the Comelec will have a new chief, this change could provide the conduct of credible elections next year. And with credible polls achieved, the Comelec would be able to recover its tainted credibility.

“Unless there will be good and honest elections next year and we see that the 2007 elections are clean, then the credibility of the Comelec can be restored. But that is next to impossible since this is all dependent on the leadership,” Quitorio said, in an obvious dig at Abalos and the massive fraud that attended the 2004 presidential polls.

Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra, who was earlier recommended by the Ombudsman to be liable and recommended the filing of impeachment charges, in a separate interview, asserted that the ruling of the Ombudsman only justifies the conclusion that there is nothing irregular nor anomalous in the voided contract they had entered into with Mega Pacific E Solutions.

“I am leaving it up to the Supreme Court now,” Borra said.

Asked what would be their next move, Borra replied “ we will have to wait for the Supreme Court now but they can file motion for reconsideration”.

Shortly after the 2004 elections, the CBCP took the stand that there was no massive cheating, despite the evidence of fraud presented.

There was also created within the CBCP, a body that was tasked to investigate allegations of massive fraud that accompanied the 2004 presidential polls.

A report said to have been “for your eyes (Bishops) only” found that Mrs. Arroyo had cheated by some 600,000 votes.

This report was never made public.

During the plenary meeting of the CBCP after the Hello Garci tapes surfaced, the CBCP, in its pastoral letter, rejected the calls for Mrs. Arroyo to resign.

In the latest plenary meeting of the CBCP this year, the bishops again refused to be drawn into the political fray, and were seen as having allied themselves with Mrs. Arroyo, as they also rejected impeachment as a means to search for the truth, saying impeachment was useless.

The bishops were reported to have received bribes in the form of money in the amount of P20 to

30 thousand each.

They were also given airline tickets as well as hotel stays, luncheons and dinners at Malacanang.

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