MANILA,  JUNE 3, 2004
By Jess Diaz  -  The opposition Koalisyon ng Nagkakaisang Pilipino (KNP) presented yesterday what it claimed were pieces of evidence showing that its standard-bearer, movie actor Fernando Poe Jr., was cheated in the May 10 elections.

The "evidence," consisting of certificates of canvass, statements of votes and election returns that were supposedly "doctored," were presented by KNP lawyer Rufus Rodriguez at the Batasan complex where Congress, acting as a canvassing board, is holding its session.

Not to be outdone, lawyers of the administration Koalisyon ng Karanasan at Katapatan para sa Kinabukasan or K-4 held their own news conference in the same venue minutes after Rodriguez had left.

The K-4 lawyers presented "proof" that President Arroyo was cheated in General Santos City, Leyte, Laguna, Cotabato City, Iligan City, Sultan Kudarat and Aurora.

Rodriguez said the KNP, through its representatives in the Senate-House joint canvassing committee, will present its evidence when the certificates of canvass (COCs) in 25 provinces where Poe was allegedly cheated are tallied.

He said if Congress opens the precinct-level election returns, it would find out that Poe received most of the more than two million votes in these provinces.

Poe’s large margin in these areas is more than enough to offset Arroyo’s gains in the places that she claims are her bailiwick, he added.

He could not identify the 25 provinces but said among these are Kalinga, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Tawi-Tawi, Basilan, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, Cebu, Bohol and Iloilo.

Cebu is where Mrs. Arroyo obtained her biggest margin of more than a million votes over her closest rival, according to the K-4 tabulation.

Rodriguez said if Congress agrees to open the election returns in the 25 provinces, it can finish its tally in two weeks "since we won’t have many questions on the 151 other COCs."

Citing specifics, Rodriguez said the KNP candidate won in Maguindanao by 140,000 votes but that in the COC now with Congress, "they (provincial board of canvassers) made it appear that Mrs. Arroyo won by 50,000 votes."

He said in Pangutaran town in Sulu, 8,000 votes were added to Mrs. Arroyo, who received only 716 votes, while 4,000 votes were shaved from Poe, who was left with only 252 votes.

"In Sumisip, Basilan, we won, but the COC reflects a GMA victory," he claimed, referring to the President’s initials.

Rodriguez’s documents included one election return for Banggulo, Marawi City, Lanao del Norte.

The KNP lawyer said erasures were made on entries in the return in such a way that Poe lost 40 votes, from 107 to 67, while Mrs. Arroyo’s 91 votes were left untouched.

Responding to questions, the KNP lawyer said if the election returns have also been tampered with, "then we cannot do anything since we cannot go to the ballots."

In their news conference, K-4 lawyers Grace Lee-Maduramente and Francisco Gacal said the administration coalition was contesting the canvass in General Santos City since "it was conducted by an illegally constituted board of canvassers."

They conceded that Poe won there by obtaining 69,000 votes against Mrs. Arroyo’s 28,000.

They said in Barugo, Leyte, 2,000 votes were added to Poe, while in Calamba, Laguna, there was an attempt to shave 6,000 votes from Mrs. Arroyo.

In Zamboanga del Sur and other parts of Central Mindanao, the K-4 lawyers said there were numerous complaints of vote-buying and terrorism by KNP candidates.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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