OPPOSITION SENATOR DARED ADMINISTRATION TO FILE POLL FRAUD RAPS

MANILA,  JUNE 4, 2004
(STAR)
Opposition Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. Wednesday dared the political camp of incumbent President Gloria Arroyo to make good on its threat to file criminal charges against election cheaters.

Pimentel expressed skepticism that this is just another gimmickry to deodorize its role in massive fraud that has cast doubts over the integrity of the May 10 polls.

He further said the administrationís move is laudable because this would enable the Presidentís political lieutenants to prove their allegation that Pres. Arroyo has been cheated by the opposition in certain areas.

"Itís about time they do that in the same manner that we in the opposition have taken the first step to hail perpetrators of dagdag-bawas (vote padding-shaving) to the courts," he said.

Pimentel observed, however, that while the camp of opposition standard bearer Fernando Poe, Jr. has presented well-documented cases of fraud committed by the administration in various provinces, the administration coalition has yet to present an iota of evidence to back up its claim of having been cheated by the opposition in certain areas.

He said this has only given credence to suspicion that the administrationís counter-charges of irregularities allegedly committed by the FPJ camp are nothing but a lot of hot air intended to deceive the public and to camouflage its despicable role in the large-scale and systematic fraud that has made a mockery of the sovereign will of the people.

Meanwhile, Pimentel questioned the basis of a statement of some members of the clergy that the May 10 elections were "generally peaceful" ruling out a "national conspiracy to engage in massive cheating."

He doubted whether this reflects the general views and sentiments of all the clergy.

Pimentel said the apparently sweeping conclusion of that statement runs counter to the findings of the Church-based Coalition of Hope decrying the mass disenfranchisement of voters, vote buying and fraud on a massive scale that its volunteers have uncovered and documented.

"Elections can be peaceful but fraudulent. Fraud can be done under an environment of peace," the newly-elected senator said.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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