Sen. Cayetano hails NAMFREL volunteers’ sacrifices

by Nestor D. Malapajo, Jr., NAMFREL Volunteer

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.22

During the joint hearing on October 18 of the Senate Electoral Reforms Committee, headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, and the Blue Ribbon Committee, chaired by Sen. Teofisto Guingona, Jr., Committee member Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano hailed the sacrifices of NAMFREL volunteers in the 2004 and 2007 elections, together with other witnesses who allege that the elections were rigged and fraudulent.

“I would like to take this opportunity to call on all witnesses, including NAMFREL volunteers, whom, since 1986 and even before that, have sacrificed much. This is the right time to come out in the open, tell the truth, so we can look forward for a clean and honest 2013 elections,” said Sen. Cayetano.

NAMFREL Secretary General Eric Alvia replied to the call by committing to submit to the Blue Ribbon Committee in the next hearing a number of documents, including election returns and certificates of canvass that have “inconsistencies” and manifest errors.

Upon hearing this, Sen. Cayetano said, “I would also like to manifest that it is precisely where NAMFREL does its job. I was informed that in the past, there were some unscrupulous politicians whofiled before the COMELEC asking not to accredit NAMFREL. Precisely, because NAMFREL have thedata and they can produce it, and I would like to thank you for that. And I would just like to say hang in there and continue doing your work cause definitely there will be challenges to your organization.”

At the start of hearing, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. also submitted to the Committee several documents which he said would be vital to the investigation.

Aside from Senators Guingona, Pimentel and Cayetano, Sens. Jinggoy Estrada and Francis Escudero took turns in grilling the witnesses and resource persons, namely former Shariah Circuit Court Judge Nagamura Moner, former Philippine Ports Authority General Manager Alfonso Cusi, Comelec ARMM Director Rey Sumalipao, and former Maguindanao Provincial Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, among others.

Moner, when asked by Sen. Estrada as to who he thinks would have won the election in 2004 had there been no fraud, replied “If there was no cheating, Poe (referring to former actor and thenpresidential candidate Fernando Poe, Jr.) could have won by a large margin.”

Cusi vehemently denied all the accusations made by Moner linking him to the fraud in 2004 elections, though he said that he met Moner in April 2004 when the latter was planning to launch the Lanao Unity Movement (LUM), a “loose” organization supporting then-candidate Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

When asked if there were syndicates inside and outside of the Comelec selling election returns and certificates of canvass, Bedol replied in the affirmative.

On the issue of manifest errors, Sen. Cayetano brought to the attention of Dir. Sumalipao a NAMFREL report that said an “election return (ER) showed Arroyo getting only 964 votes but the CoC indicated 4,700 votes. FPJ got 767 in the ER and zero in the COC.”

He asked NAMFREL, as approved by the Committee, to make a presentation in the next hearing about their report in the 2004 elections, specifically on the manifest errors. The Committee will allot time in the next hearing for NAMFREL’s presentation.