Francis Pangilinan

Senator Kiko Pangilinan’s statement on the death of former AFP Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes

We are deeply saddened by the turn of events. We condole with the family of the late Secretary Angelo Reyes. It is tragic that what started out as an investigation in aid of legislation has led to his apparent suicide. Death is not a graceful exit to such a distinguished officer as Secretary Reyes. A more honorable way would have been to come out with the truth and win back the admiration of his fellow soldiers. This is now the challenge the other generals are facing. Read more

Senator Kiko Pangilinan's 2010 Christmas message

2010 was a year of change for our country. President Noynoy Aquino’s victory in the elections was the catalyst our nation, aspiring for something better, needed most. Several months hence, we saw and felt these changes happening around us, albeit in a pace that would leave a lot of people wanting. Through sheer determination, we all fought against corruption, even if it meant just starting with not using wang-wangs and respecting traffic laws. With steely resolve, we were able to expose corruption in several government corporations and were able to institute much needed reforms to curb such practices. Read more

Sen. Kiko Pangilinan's 12 Christmas wishes for our country and our leader. What's yours?

PNoy’s ally in the Senate, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, lists down yesterday, December 19, his 12 wishes for President Benigno Aquino III and for the country. First on Sen. Kiko’s list is for the peace talks in Mindanao to start, followed by a hope for a new image in the Philippine tourism industry. As what was expected, the most talked about wish among the 12 is the Senator’s 4th wish; “A girlfriend for PNoy.” Below is Sen. Kiko Pangilinan’s complete wish list this coming Christmas. Care to share yours? Read more

Enrile is Senate President again

Enrile is Senate President again
By Christine O. Avendaño
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines — A survivor of many political wars is keeping his grip on the Senate presidency, after all.

Earlier thought to be on his way out, reelected Senator Juan Ponce Enrile clinched the Senate leadership Sunday night by obtaining the support of 21 senators — a powerful majority in the 23-member upper chamber of Congress.

Senators said the 86-year-old lawmaker from Cagayan was assured of his continued hold on his position following a series of meetings and sudden developments during the weekend.

The most dramatic was Sunday’s last-minute announcement by Senator Francis Pangilinan, the erstwhile candidate of Malacañang, that he was withdrawing from the Senate presidential race in order to unify the chamber.

“It’s a truly united Senate,” Senator Edgardo Angara told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, saying that all blocs in the chamber have come together to support Enrile as their chief.

It was the second time in the Senate’s recent history that all parties and blocs have backed a common leader, Angara said.

Curiously, both cases involved Enrile and both happened while an Aquino was at the country’s helm — the first during the presidency of the late Corazon Aquino and now, during the rule of her son, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

“In the first Aquino administration, it was Senator Enrile who was the lone minority member in the Senate. Now under the second Aquino administration, he is the head of the unity Senate,” Angara said.

“He [Enrile] has come full circle,” he added.

In a phone interview, Angara credited the sudden turn of events to efforts of the Liberal Party (LP), Nacionalista Party (NP) of Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., and other blocs — including Angara’s — to come together and agree on a Senate President by the time the 15th Congress opens this Monday.

Since late last week, Pangilinan had been the frontrunner in the fight for the Senate leadership.

Enrile of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino only loomed as an alternative candidate after the NP and LP candidates failed to get the 13 votes needed to win the Senate presidency.

“Since neither side [Villar and Pangilinan] were able to make it, we agreed with Villar and the others that we need to elect one because it would be embarrassing for the Senate if we can’t rule even ourselves,” Angara said.

All different blocs “contributed” to the unity of the Senate, according to Angara.

He said Enrile was “the best option” because neither Pangilinan nor Villar was able to secure the 13 votes.

Angara said Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada would remain as Senate President pro tempore, while Senator Vicente “Tito” Sotto would be the majority leader.

But with a unified Senate behind Enrile, Angara conceded that the question of who would be the minority leader was up in the air.

“We don’t know yet who would want to stand on the opposite aisle,” he said.

The Senate has 23 members with Aquino’s rise to the presidency. Only 21 of them can vote in Monday’s Senate presidency election.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV remains detained while Senator Panfilo Lacson has yet to surface after he left the country six months ago while facing charges for the double murder of publicist Salvador “Bubby” Dacer and Dacer’s driver.

Estrada, like Enrile, committed to support Pangilinan but Estrada made it clear to the LP senator that he would only support him if Enrile did not make a bid for the Senate leadership.

Pangilinan lost support for his bid after party and administration allies late last week confronted him on whether he could secure the necessary numbers and later pushed Enrile to go for the presidency himself.

Enrile had said he would do so if the senators would be able to get him the numbers.

In a statement on Sunday, Pangilinan said he gave up his bid for the top Senate post because he “realized there are political realities and developments that prevent us from securing the needed 13 votes resulting in a deadlock or stalemate.”

“Much as I would like to go down fighting, I realize that to continue with my bid would keep the Senate fragmented and disunited. The disunity must now end. I believe I can help make it happen by voluntarily stepping aside,” he said.

“It has been a very difficult experience for me and my family, but if I had to do this all over again for the cause of genuine change and reforms for our nation, I would. I would like to thank our people for their prayers and support. We fought a good fight,” Pangilinan said.

Senators were meeting on Sunday to deal with the committee chairmanships. There are 27 chairmanships up for grabs.

Drilon and Estrada said they did not think Enrile’s leadership in the Senate would be a problem for President Aquino.

Drilon said that Enrile from the very start had supported Pangilinan’s bid until the latter was unable to get the needed votes.

Likewise, he said Enrile would support the administration’s legislative agenda because not only was the Senate “an institution which will respond to the needs of the country” but one was inclined to support a “popular” President such as Mr. Aquino.

Estrada agreed that Enrile would not be a problem for Mr. Aquino since the two men were very much in good terms in the Senate before.

Malacañang said on Sunday it still expected to deal with a Senate “friendly” to President Aquino despite the withdrawal of Pangilinan from the Senate presidential fight.

“We look forward to working and cooperating with a friendly Senate,” the President’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda, said. “It’s important that we have a friendly Senate [for] our legislative agenda.”

Lacierda said that in hoping for a friendly Senate, Malacañang was not fearing that the senators might scrutinize the Aquino administration for possible corruption.

“The Aquino administration has promised not to engage in any corrupt practices that’s why we are not afraid of that,” he said. “What we are more concerned of really is the legislative agenda the President has in mind, which will require cooperation from the Senate.”

Six presidential bets call for parallel manual count

Six presidential bets call for parallel manual count
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Six presidential candidates called yesterday for a parallel manual count to ensure the credibility of the May 10 elections.

They are former President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Olongapo City Councilor JC de los Reyes and Nick Perlas.

Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. and former defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. did not join the call.

In a letter dated April 25, the six presidential candidates asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct a simplified parallel manual count for president, vice president and any of three local posts: governor, member of the House of Representatives, or mayor.

The results of the parallel manual count will be compared to the tally by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“The credibility of automated elections has suffered because the Comelec has removed many of the safeguards that were initially set in place – a credible source code review, ultraviolet mark checking, and the authenticity check through digital signatures, among others,” read the letter.

“Credibility and acceptance of the outcome of the elections can be restored by simply adding this one step – the parallel manual count.”

The letter was also signed by business groups led by Ramon del Rosario, Makati Business Club chairman; and Gregorio Navarro, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president; and church groups led by bishops Oscar Cruz and Deogracias Iñiguez.

NP: Manual count might cause confusion

The Nacionalista Party (NP) fears that a parallel manual count might cause confusion.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, NP spokesman Gilbert Remulla said they are not inclined to back a parallel manual count because “it is very late in the game.”

“We don’t know the rules and why they only want a parallel count for the president, vice president and mayor?” he said.

“It might turn out that the election fraud will happen (in the manual parallel count). What will happen in a situation when the results (of the automated count and the manual count) won’t match?

“Which will be more credible – the automated counting or the manual count which is also prone to errors.”

Remulla said those with backgrounds on poll cheating are former members of the Arroyo Cabinet who have joined the Liberal Party.

“Who are experienced in the ‘Hello, Garci’ type of operations?” he asked.

“Definitely not the NP, but those who were with (President) Gloria who are now with Noynoy Aquino.”

Remulla said former defense secretary Avelino Cruz, whom he claimed to have dealt with the Ampatuans in Maguindanao and members of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in 2004, and Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who became notorious for his “Noted” stance during the canvassing of votes, are now with the LP.

“We can now see who voted not to listen to the Garci tapes at that time,” he said.

“We know it’s the Liberal camp, we know it’s (then representative) Noynoy Aquino.”

Remulla said at the time the “Hello, Garci” scandal was exposed, talks were underway for the construction of SCTEX that passed through the Cojuangco-controlled Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac.

“So we see the timeline,” he said.

“This is why we are against the parallel manual count because, if there is a group who has the experience on cheating, it would definitely be not from the Nacionalista Party but from those in the Liberal Party.”

Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said yesterday the Comelec has not yet come out with a decision on the parallel manual tally.

“The Commission will come up with the decision in the next few days based on thorough studies and in consideration of various factors,” he said. – Aurea Calica, Christina Mendez, Mayen Jaymalin, Sheila Crisostomo, Ma. Elisa Osorio

Noli willing to talk to Noynoy

Noli willing to talk to Noynoy
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya , Philippines  –  Vice President Noli de Castro is willing to talk to Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding the coming May 10 elections.

Aquino disclosed that De Castro’s chief of staff Jesse Andres had told him that the vice president wants to have discussions with him.

“It’s been there for quite sometime, the invitation to talk, but the meeting has not yet pushed through,” Aquino told The STAR.

De Castro, who won as President Arroyo’s running mate in 2004, has been independent and did not run for any public office even if he was considered a frontrunner in the presidential race with high ratings in early surveys.

He declined to be the administration party’s standard-bearer despite an invitation from the Lakas-Kampi-CMD.

De Castro told newsmen that he would like Aquino’s running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II to win as vice president.

LP campaign manager for the senatorial slate Sen. Francis Pangilinan, a friend of the vice president and co-member of the Wednesday Club that included De Castro, Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., Sen. Joker Arroyo and former Sen. Ralph Recto, said the vice president had told him about his support for Roxas but not yet for Aquino’s candidacy.

If De Castro decides to support Aquino, only Senator Arroyo will be left with Villar because Recto also chose to run for re-election under the LP.

Meanwhile, 47 farmers’ groups and agrarian reform advocates representing more than 300,000 farmers nationwide formally endorsed Aquino and Roxas yesterday as their choice to become the next president and vice-president of the country.

The endorsement by the 47 groups followed the endorsement of the LP tandem by the farmer-beneficiaries of agrarian reform in the controversial Sumilao estate in Bukidnon.

The farmers marched from Bukidnon to Manila to dramatize the problems in the agrarian reform program in the Philippines.

“We support Aquino for president and Roxas for vice president because we are convinced they will fight for food security. Their emphasis on buying rice from our own farmers at reasonable prices rather than importing corruption-tainted grains will be good for us,” the group said in a statement.

The farmers said: “We are confident that they will implement CARPER (Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program Extension with Reforms) properly and with sufficient funding.”

They said that under the leadership of the two LP leaders, farmers could look forward to faster coverage of private and public agricultural land; provision of gender-fair support services to ensure increasing agricultural production and higher farm incomes; and cessation of conversion of irrigated and irrigable farm land and attention to ecological concerns and climate change issues.

At the same time, they urged the LP tandem to ensure the speedy resolution of agrarian conflicts, among them the resolution of the settlement agreement between the Sumilao farmers of Bukidnon and San Miguel Foods Inc.; the conversion into agrarian lands of thousands of hectares of land in Davao del Norte covered by the Davao Penal Colony and owned by the government; the refusal of the Negros Occidental Register of Deeds to transfer the titles of land in Hacienda Bacan to the rightful beneficiaries, allegedly because the estate is owned by the Arroyo family; and the Hacienda Luisita land dispute.  – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Ma. Elisa P. Osorio

LP believes support for Noynoy to remain solid

LP believes support for Noynoy to remain solid
By Aurea Calica and Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star

ANILA, Philippines – The Liberal Party (LP) is confident that support for its standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III will remain solid until election day, despite black propaganda being employed against him in the last campaign stretch.

LP spokesperson Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the latest Social Weather Stations survey conducted by San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, an ally of Aquino’s rival, Sen. Manuel Villar Jr. would show that voter support for Aquino had solidified at 37 percent while Villar’s ratings kept fluctuating but would not catch up with Aquino’s.

“They don’t have really much to be happy about,” Pangilinan said.

“It confirms the widening lead of Noynoy Aquino over Villar in earlier polls released last month by the SWS and Pulse Asia and establishes that Noynoy has a very strong base of voter support at 37 percent,” he pointed out.

He said the widening lead of Aquino over Villar in the Zamora-funded poll appeared to have stepped up the black propaganda operations of the Nacionalista Party after the Holy Week break.

“Our opponents should realize that no amount of dirty tricks can stop the people’s desire for honesty in government and genuine change, as seen in the outpouring of support for the team of Aquino (and his running mate Sen. Manuel Roxas II) and the LP senatorial slate,” Pangilinan said.

He noted that despite the below-the-belt and non-stop black propaganda against Aquino, those who had made up their minds to vote for him would unlikely change their choices.

Aquino’s spokesperson, Edwin Lacierda said the NP’s claim that Villar cut Aquino’s lead from 12 points as seen in the Pulse Asia survey to eight points in the SWS polls was a twisted interpretation of survey figures.

“Pulse Asia and the SWS are two different organizations. You do not compare survey results from different organizations – different samples, different methods,” Lacierda said.

He added that “Villar had spent billions to mislead the public of his origin, character and intentions and his propagandists had spread lies over every medium possible, yet to no avail.

“The efforts and integrity of Noynoy Aquino’s allies, supporters, and volunteers have nullified Villar’s gargantuan campaign machine. The Filipino people are hungry for change.”

LP spokesman and Quezon Rep. Lorenzo Tañada III said Villar only gained one point based on the survey commissioned by Villar’s ally.

“Obviously the NP is desperately trying to look for ways to cover up the fact that the lead of Senator Aquino seems to be stable,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) belied LP’s accusation that it had been biased against the party.

In a press briefing, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said LP was “drawing unnecessary conclusion to the en banc.”

Aquino to Roxas, Escudero: Don’t focus on battle next time

Aquino to Roxas, Escudero: Don’t focus on battle next time
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

GAPAN CITY, NUEVA ECIJA—Survey front-runner Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III Thursday called on his bickering allies to sacrifice personal ambition in order to realize their common goal of bringing about change through the May elections.

The Liberal Party standard-bearer appeared unruffled by reports that the LP was in turmoil as a result of a power play between his running mate Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and his kumpare Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero for control of his campaign strategy and logistics.

“There might be a battle between Mar and Chiz down the line. But [even if] there is [such] a battle, will you sacrifice the mission we all have at this point in time?” Aquino said at a press conference.

Roxas and Escudero are seen as potential rivals for the presidency in 2016.

“I think I can attest to the fact that everybody is responsible enough to ensure we are clear as to who the real opponent is, and the real problems besetting us. It does us no good to fight future battles within. The battle that is important is the one that leads to a transition to a new form of government,” he said.

Aquino also said that “the forces against the change we want to happen are showing their very blatant side and their fangs.”

He said party members “have reached a level of maturity that we can afford to subsume personal interests because the overriding personal ambition is to ensure the transition to change.”

Toxic

Escudero, through his Team Chiz led by LP senatorial candidate Sergio Osmeña III and columnist Lito Banayo, has been in full support of Aquino’s candidacy since the start of the campaign period two months ago.

But Escudero is backing Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay for vice president, riling the Roxas camp in the LP.

Team Chiz had claimed it was being eased out of the campaign team; Team Mar had countered that Team Chiz was “toxic” to the LP.

But in a text message, LP campaign manager Sen. Francis Pangilinan said reports that Team Chiz was being booted out by Team Mar merely indicated “minor organizational gaps that needed addressing as we prepare for the endgame.”

“The matter has been swiftly resolved and the needed adjustments have been put in place,” Pangilinan said.

‘No problem’

At the press conference, Aquino and Roxas took turns assuring the public that all was well between them.

“Mar and I have always been transparent with each other on everything,” Aquino said.

Roxas said he had “no problem” with Escudero’s support of Aquino but not himself.

“What is most important is to encourage everyone to support him even though they are supporting other candidates in other posts. This is no secret; I think this is just an ant that was turned into a monster,” Roxas said, adding:

“[Escudero’s] support is welcome especially in his home province in Bicolandia, where the surveys show that the race is tight.”

When asked if he was on good terms with Escudero, Roxas said: “I would assume [so] because when we parted before the adjournment of the Senate session, we were friends. And there is no reason why we cannot be friends.”

Escudero himself has refused to comment on the conflict in the party.

More people added

Roxas said the LP needed to fill the space left by Osmeña, who quit as campaign manager to focus on his senatorial candidacy.

He said more people had been added to the campaign team to make it stronger in the run-up to the May elections.

Aquino confirmed that Osmena’s old post as campaign manager and media coordinator had been taken over by Roxas’ publicist Danny Gozo.

But he said this would not affect the role of Team Chiz and his own staff led by TV director Maria Montelibano, which would continue to focus on his presidential campaign.

Aquino said he had insisted on keeping his own team in the campaign outside of the party’s main campaign unit led by Roxas’ men.

“I’m comfortable with all these people for my media needs. I can’t work with only Zaldy de Layola (his chief media handler in the Senate),” he said, adding that his campaign was “media-centric rather sortie-centric.”

Despite the purported cracks in the LP campaign, Aquino described his hastily created team as better than the opposition.

He cited the results of the major surveys conducted in the last seven months, with the Aquino-Roxas duo in the top spot.

LP ‘crumbling’

Reacting to reports that Team Chiz had been booted out of the LP campaign, Mayor Binay said this would hurt the party’s goal of taking Malacañang.

“It’s sad [for the LP]. They are crumbling while our forces are being consolidated because of our improving ratings in the surveys. So they have a problem there,” the running mate of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino standard-bearer Joseph “Erap” Estrada said in Zamboanga City.

Binay defended Escudero’s reported decision to back him, and not Roxas, in the vice presidential race.

He said he and Escudero had been through a lot together since they worked for the presidential candidacy of the late action star Fernando Poe Jr. in 2004.

Like a son

“Senator Chiz is not just like a son to me,” Binay said. “He’s also my godson because I stood as one of the principal sponsors at his wedding.”

Binay said that when Poe suffered a fatal heart attack during a gathering of friends and political supporters in December 2004, “I was at his right and Chiz was at his left.”

“So that’s the thing that binds us together,” he said.

Binay also said Escudero was not obligated to support all of the LP candidates, including Roxas, because he was not a party member.

He said he was “confident” of victory “because the people support the group of Erap and the group of Binay.”

‘That’s how it is’

Estrada was unfazed that certain people were for Binay but not necessarily for him. He said he had gotten used to such peculiarities during his 35 years in politics.

“You can’t prevent that from happening. There are also those who support Erap-Loren (Sen. Loren Legarda, the running mate of Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar),” Estrada said.

“That’s how it is. It is just minimal, though. Of course, there are those who can’t say no to Binay,” he said. With a report from Norman Bordadora

Charge culprits in P700-M overprice, bishop urges

Charge culprits in P700-M overprice, bishop urges
By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—“That’s a mortal sin.” And there have been reportedly others before that.

A Catholic bishop called for the filing of charges against the people behind the scuttled purchase by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of ballot secrecy folders for the May elections because of the huge amount that would have cost taxpayers.

“P700 million! Wow! Prosecute the culprits. That’s a mortal sin,” said Cotabato Auxiliary Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan called for the resignation of Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino, who reportedly endorsed the award of the contract to OTC Paper Supply for the purchase of the secrecy folders at P380 each.

The senator said Tolentino should step down for the latter’s alleged “continued involvement in different electoral anomalies.”

It was the Comelec’s bids and awards committee (BAC) that recommended the awarding of the contract to OTC.

BAC chair Maria Lea Alarkon said the recommendation was based on the specifications approved by the poll body’s en banc.

The BAC members are Allen Francis Abaya, Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, Martin Niedo and Antonio Santella.

The Comelec had initially planned to buy 1.8 million ballot secrecy folders worth P380 each, a contract worth nearly P700 million.

But on Monday the Comelec en banc scrapped the purchase of the folders after finding the price of each folder to be extravagant.

The Comelec has decided that it would just use the less expensive regular folders to help voters shield their ballots from prying eyes.

It has ordered an investigation of the case.

In a statement, Pangilinan cited two other controversial cases in which Tolentino had alleged involvement—the “scandalous” Mega-Pacific consortium and his “puzzling refusal to purge zombie registrants.”

“And his name figures prominently in this recent fiasco regarding the P700 million folders,” the senator said.

Mega-Pacific won the P1.2-billion contract to supply counting machines for the 2004 elections. The Supreme Court nullified the contract, but the Comelec had already paid the company a huge amount for the machines which remain unused.

Pangilinan said it was a wonder why Tolentino was still with the Comelec.

“Too much is at stake for our country to entrust its hope for a better future in inept leadership within the Comelec. This is precisely the kind of corruption that we’d like to put an end to after the elections. Let’s start now. Tolentino should resign. Our people deserve better,” Pangilinan said.

He said the Comelec could not afford to have lapses of judgment “this late and crucial part in the ball game.”

“The Comelec’s handling of the country’s first ever automated election leaves a lot to be desired based on what we’ve seen and heard. The last thing the Commission needs is to be embroiled in a graft and corruption controversy,” Pangilinan said.

The Comelec should also disclose the amount it had paid for other election paraphernalia, according to Renato Reyes of the election watchdog group Kontra Daya.

Reyes said the poll body might have bought overpriced items in the past based on the reasons that one of its officials gave for the initial approval of the purchase of the secrecy folders.

Reyes said the statement of the BAC chair that the P380 price tag was “reasonable,” because the Comelec had bought P320 binders in the past, just exposed its penchant for buying costly items.

Alarkon had noted that the binders were half the size of the ballot secrecy folders, and that P380 was the median price.

“This shows that the overpricing of paraphernalia has been going on for a long time under the nose of the Comelec,” Reyes said.

In the interest of transparency, the Comelec should also disclose how much it is paying or will be paying for other election paraphernalia, such as the indelible ink, ballots and ballot boxes, Reyes said.

The Comelec’s citizens’ arm, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), said there should be a thorough probe of the processes that led to the initial decision to buy the expensive secrecy folders.

“Each resolution and each recommendation of the different departments must be examined very well because it could have been an oversight, but still the fact is it will cost the government so much,” PPCRV chair Henrietta de Villa said in an interview over Radio Veritas.

De Villa also said reports that there was incomplete staff work on the documents for the purchase of the folders should also be looked into.

“Any kind of staff work must always be efficient and complete. The commissioners, they rely on the work of the staff that when it’s presented to them it has already been fully prepared and scrutinized,” she said.

Malacañang said it would monitor the result of the investigation by the Comelec.

“Let us not distrust the Comelec just because of this issue. There are bigger issues that the Comelec is attending to and I think they’re doing very well,” Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza told reporters. With a report from Christine O. Avendaño