Philippines: Koko files raps vs Cotabato poll execs

Jun. 14, 2007


MANILA — Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Aquilino Koko Pimentel III today filed electoral sabotage charges against provincial election supervisors Lilia Radam of South Cotabato and Yogie Martizar of North Cotabato for tampering and padding the votes of certain Team Unity senatorial candidates in the provincial certificates of canvass (COC) in flagrant violation of election laws.

In two separate complaints with the Commission on Elections, Pimentel filed 12 counts of electoral sabotage against Radam, who chaired the provincial board of canvassers in South Cotabato, and two counts of the same offense against Martizar, who chaired the PBC in North Cotabato, and two other members of the board, Jose Agerio de Guzman and Gloria Mudanza.

Based on the complaints, the respondent election officials were accused of violating Republic Act 9369 which provides that tampering, increasing or decreasing the votes received by a candidate in any election, involving more than 5,000 votes, are liable for the crime of electoral sabotage which is punishable by life imprisonment.

Pimentel said available election documents and testimonies gathered from witnesses revealed that Radam and John Does were responsible for padding the votes of TU candidates Edgardo Angara, Joker Arroyo, Michael Defensor, Prospero Pichay, Ralph Recto and Juan Miguel Zubiri in General Santos City, Koronadal City, and the municipalities of Banga, Lake Sebu, Norala, Polomolok, Sto. Nio, Surallah, Tampakan, Tantangan, Tboli and Tupi in South Cotabato.

Based on the scrutiny of the certificates of canvass from the said cities and municipalities and statement of votes by municipality, Pimentel said Radam and other co-respondents padded the votes of Angara by 101,000 votes, Arroyo by 110,000 votes, Defensor by 109,000 votes, Pichay by 110,000 votes, Recto by 116,000 votes and Zubiri by 77,000 votes in the two cities and 10 towns of South Cotabato.

Pimentel said Radam, in conspiracy with persons who were still unknown at this time, feloniously, deliberately and maliciously tampered and falsified the statement of votes by municipality, thereby increasing the number of votes of the TU candidates.

In another complaint, Pimentel said Martizar, De Guzman and Mudanza should be held liable for illegally increasing the number of votes garnered by Zubiri in North Cotabato by more or less 130,000 votes while decreasing the votes garnered by complainant (Pimentel) by more than 40,000 votes.

According to the complaint, the respondent election officials certified in the provincial certificate of canvass that Pimentel garnered approximately 95,000 votes while Zubiri obtained approximately 265,000 votes.

However, when the provincial COC for North Cotabato was scrutinized during the proceedings before the National Board of Canvassers, it was set aside because of manifest defects.

When the special provincial board of canvassers for North Cotabato constituted by Comelec terminated its re-canvass it was found out that Pimentel actually obtained 136,370 votes while Zubiri obtained only 132,295 votes.

The respondents themselves perpetrated and perpetuated the falsification of the PCOC when they affixed their signatures in the said documents, and sent the said falsified PCOC to the national board of canvassers, Pimentel said.

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