KNP MULLS FILING OF POLL FRAUD CHARGES VS GMA

MANILA,  May 17, 2004 (STAR) By Paolo Romero  -  The camp of Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) standard-bearer Fernando Poe Jr. said yesterday "all options" are being considered against the administration, including the possible filing of electoral fraud charges against President Arroyo.

KNP officials also announced they have the evidence to prove that the administration cheated their way through last week’s vote.

According to Sen. Vicente Sotto III, Poe’s personal campaign manager, and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, member of the KNP executive committee, they have gathered enough evidence to build their case.

"We have documents and even pictures of massive cheating committed by this administration," Sotto said.

Sotto claimed they have photographs purportedly showing enlisted men filling out ballots and making tallies of their votes. He described the photos as the "smoking gun" that would prove the administration committed massive fraud.

Binay, on the other hand, disclosed that the first batch of documentary evidence is already on its way to Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal.

Vidal will be receiving the evidence from the KNP today on behalf of the Alliance of HOPE — for honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

Binay said the documents have been requested by Vidal, who earlier said the Church has a parallel effort to monitor and document cheating by both sides.

"We are considering all our options and studying the legal aspects of all these (options)," he said.

Binay, however, refused to comment whether they will furnish copies of the same documents to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) or before the courts.

Both Sotto and Binay also refused to comment whether Poe will spearhead a massive protest rally against the administration.

They said any move to launch mass actions from their end might further justify Malacañang’s tagging them as "destabilizers."

"We are not talking about any protest rallies, such reports did not come from us, they’re part of Malacañang’s script against us," Sotto said. "But whatever happens, they (administration officials) are answerable to the people."

Binay said the KNP is now very careful in issuing statements on protests against the administration.

On the other hand, another KNP leader, Sen. Edgardo Angara, warned of another "people power" scenario should it be proven the administration cheated in last week’s elections.

Angara, president of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino (LDP) in coalition with the KNP, said people cannot be dissuaded from taking to the streets if there is evidence of massive cheating.

"FPJ (Poe) wants calm (among his supporters). Pero hindi mapipigilan ang tao if they feel their votes were stolen," Angara told The STAR in a telephone interview yesterday.

Angara made the statement a day after KNP senatorial candidate Francisco Tatad said not even Poe can stop his supporters from launching street protests to denounce the administration for alleged massive fraud.

Poe and KNP leaders earlier appealed for sobriety for supporters to stay off the streets and wait until the last vote is counted.

Angara, executive chairman of the KNP, announced they are in the process of gathering evidence and would wait for final results before making any major move.

But Angara stressed yesterday that the possibility of another popular uprising against the administration was "hypothetical."

He said his assumptions were based the premise that massive cheating in last Monday’s vote is proven.

The opposition lawmaker cited the "unusual presence" of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo in Mindanao before the May 10 general elections.

"Evidence point to massive cheating, especially in Mindanao," Angara said. "Mike Arroyo has been in Mindanao since May 11. I think that’s unusual, a strange coincidence."

He said that evidence so far gathered indicate cheating occurred at the municipal and provincial canvassing of votes.

Angara cited information from the KNP which also pointed to alleged cheating in some parts of the Visayas.

In some areas in Cebu, he said, "they are making it appear that of 91 percent who cast their votes, 90 percent voted for GMA (President Arroyo)."

Sotto and Binay said Poe will preside a KNP executive committee meeting today to plot their next move.

Binay said the KNP will continue to gather more reports and documents on the alleged electoral fraud.

Binay also said the KNP is expanding its alliance with other political parties, including Bangon Pilipinas of Bro. Eddie Villanueva, to form a united front against poll fraud. He did not elaborate.

Sotto added the evidence of cheating will be more evident once the canvassing of votes for president and vice president will be conducted by a joint session of Congress on May 24.

He pointed out that more anomalies would be uncovered since it would reflect the discrepancies in the certificates of canvass (COCs) submitted before a joint session of Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers.

Sotto said the KNP has copies of the official COCs from all polling areas and their tallies showed Poe is winning by a large margin. — With Ding Cervantes


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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