2004 electoral fraud

Seeking Closure

In seeking closure to the 2004 and 2007 elections, which type of book (history or law) should be thrown at the fraudsters first?

The truth has a funny way of coming out regardless of how it is suppressed.

After years of hiding and running from the law, former election supervisor of Maguindanao Lintang Bedol decided to surface last week and attest to what many already knew: that fraud had been committed in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections favoring Mrs Arroyo.

The suspended regional ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan who is contemplating a life in prison for complicity in the Maguindanao massacre has also implicated Mrs Arroyo last week in a sworn statement.

When such evidence had been suppressed, some anti-GMA stalwarts sought to prod it out of complicit subalterns through a Truth Commission. Now that some of these subalterns have confessed to their involvement, they seem incoherent about the way forward.

Take Sen Chiz Escudero for instance. His proposal for a joint congressional fact-finding committee to determine the real winner of the 2004 presidential elections was echoed by his ex-partymate and vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda who suggested putting the picture of Fernando Poe, Jr her runningmate in Malacanang as a way of “correcting history” if it is proven that he won against Mrs Arroyo in 2004.

Such a move would be frivolous according to the senate president, Juan Ponce Enrile, who believes that prosecuting the case now lies with the Department of Justice whose chief says it is ready to handle it. Creating a separate body to deliberate over the issue would only impede the investigation. The point of Escudero and Legarda is to correct historically the results of the 2004 election, the point of Enrile is to determine criminal liability and prosecute the case against those found liable.

Congressman Ted Casino on the other hand wants Congress to go beyond the issue of who might have won or lost in the 2004 election and look at investigating and perhaps legislating ways to address vulnerabilities in our electoral system to protect it from manipulation in the future. A good point I might add. The problem however is how to deal with an issue that would already be under the jurisdiction of the courts.

Perhaps the best way forward is to expedite the legal proceedings first and then to use whatever evidence, insights or lessons uncovered in the process to inform future legislative proposals. While correcting the record books for posterity might be essential for the people involved, there will be ample opportunity to pursue this in the future. Right now, perhaps we need to let the proverbial wheels of justice turn.

The sooner we can get on with this, the sooner we can move on.

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud

Marine officers ready to talk about alleged 2004 poll fraud
by Andreo Calonzo

Several senior Marine officers are willing to come out in the open to share vital information regarding the alleged irregularities in the 2004 elections that supposedly benefited then presidential candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

This was according to Marine commandant Maj. Gen. Juancho Sabban, who said in an exclusive GMA News interview that he got the assurance personally from these unnamed military officers.

“I talked to some senior officers who were then commanders of middle level units, and they can attest to what happened,” Sabban told GMA News reporter Susan Enriquez in the interview aired over “24 Oras” Wednesday.

He said the officers will only share the information with the soon-to-be-formed Truth Commission, the independent body that will investigate unresolved controversies under the Arroyo administration, including accusations of poll fraud.

Arroyo’s camp has repeatedly denied irregularities during the 2004 elections.

Sabban said most of these officers were assigned in Lanao del Sur, the southern Philippine province where widespread manipulation of votes allegedly took place in 2004.

“According to them, their junior officers can corroborate their statements. So, I think, if the commander comes out, then obviously, those who were there, the junior officers and enlisted personnel, they will also come out and tell what really happened,” he said.

Three now-retired generals – Hermogenes Esperon, Roy Kyamko and Gabriel Habacon – reportedly took part in the cheating to ensure Arroyo’s victory in 2004.

The names came out in the controversial “Hello, Garci” tapes — the wiretapped phone conversation between a woman believed to be Arroyo and a man believed to be then Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioner Virgilio Garcillano. [See: Hello, Garci time line.]

A military fact-finding panel had cleared Esperon, Kyamko and Habacon in a report that has been kept confidential up to the present.

Sabban appealed for the release of the report, which is dubbed as the Mayuga report in reference to the five-man panel’s head, retired Navy Vice Adm. Mateo Mayuga.

Sabban also said he is confident that the Truth Commission, to be led by retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, can get to the bottom of what really happened during the 2004 elections.

President Benigno Aquino III, during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday, said he would sign the executive order formalizing the creation of the Truth Commission this week. – KBK, GMANews.TV