FPJ LAWYERS' PLOY TO REJECT 20 COCs A VIRTUAL ADMISSION THEY LOST
MALACANANG, JUNE 2, 2004 (Office of the Press Secretary) A key legal counsel of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo today turned the table on his counterparts in the political opposition by saying their plan to exclude some 20 certificates of canvass (COCs) is a tacit admission that their client, actor Fernando Poe Jr., lost in the May 10 presidential elections.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the President’s lawyer on National Canvassing, cited a Supreme Court ruling upholding a Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) finding that more often than not, representatives of losing candidates have the tendency to ask for the exclusion of certain election returns unfavorable to them.
"This is an admitted reality in this jurisdiction," Macalintal quoted the Comelec as saying.
Macalintal hinted that the lawyers of Poe, standard-bearer of the opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP), are contradicting their own claim that Poe won over Mrs. Macapagal-Arroyo, by seeking the exclusion of certain COCs.
"If FPJ really won the election, why would his lawyers seek the exclusion of certain (election) returns? Why would they ask that a substantial number of votes of GMA from this or that province, city or district be deducted from the number of votes reflected on the COCs? Why don’t they just ask or move that the 176 COCs now in possession and custody of Congress be immediately opened and canvassed?," Macalintal wondered.
He added that the attempt by Poe’s lawyers to trim down President Macapagal-Arroyo’s votes "is a clear admission" that the 176 COCs being questioned would give the President a winning margin of more than one million votes.
"They are afraid that by opening these COCs, it will confirm and affirm our repeated claims that based on these COCs, President Macapagal-Arroyo won by 1,118,818 votes, and her running mate, Sen. Noli de Castro, won by 904,005 votes over Sen. Loren Legarda," Macalintal noted.
He dared the KNP lawyers to present figures showing otherwise.
Macalintal also chided Poe’s lawyers for indulging in "misplaced argument" by invoking Section 30 of Republic Act 7166 allowing them to examine election returns.
Citing the preponderance of Section 15 of the same law over Section 30, Macalintal explained that "pre-proclamation cases are not allowed in the election for president and vice president on matters relating to the preparation, transmission, receipt, custody and appreciation of election returns or the certificates of canvass, as the case may be."
"This means that issues pertaining to election returns cannot be raised in canvass proceedings involving candidates for president and vice president," Macalintal said.
He pointed out that R.A. 7166 was enacted specifically to ward off the "pernicious effects of excessive delay of proclamations and attempts to paralyze canvassing and proclamation."
Quoting a Supreme Court doctrine pertaining electoral protests, Macalintal said complaints about alleged terrorism, vote-buying and other irregularities in the election should be ventilated before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal as the proper forum.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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