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Kabayan Forum

                                                                                                          Refer to: Ms. Dale Zapata


03 October 2005

1.    The results of the election pertaining to the proclamation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo can no longer be questioned in any forum. The period to file any protest has long expired. The Supreme Court’s decision that there is no real party in interest who could institute an election protest against the election of PGMA has long become final and executory.  Hence, any discussion thereon is moot and academic.

2.    What is now before us is the election protest of former Senator Loren Legarda against Vice President Noli De Castro. VP De Castro vehemently denies Ms. Legarda’s unfounded and self-serving allegations of fraud and irregularities in the last election. We challenge Ms. Legarda to be more specific in her charges instead of making wild and general allegations of massive fraud by merely citing the areas without making specific reference to specific precincts and the exact number of votes she is contesting.

3.    For instance, Ms. Legarda made a fantastic claim
that only one person prepared the election returns of Pampanga and Las Piñas. Such accusation is incredible. Unbelievable. It has no basis in law and in fact. It is an insult to the Honorable Senator Manny Villar whose wife, Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, won overwhelmingly as Representative of Las Piñas City in a clean and honest election using genuine and authentic returns prepared by the boards of election inspectors during the counting and appreciation of ballots in the presence of watchers and representatives of candidates and political parties.

In the past election there were about
5,500 precincts in Pampanga while Las Piñas had about 900 precincts or a total of 6,400 precincts. So how could one person prepare and accomplish all these returns? It is highly incredible that he could prepare the 5,500 returns of Pampanga and then still have the luxury of time of traveling more about 200 kms to Las Piñas City to prepare the latter’s returns.

Furthermore, it is impossible to prepare the returns in advance of the election. This is so because before the polls no one knows the exact number of voters who would be actually voting. Hence, you do not know how many votes to give or credit a candidate. Likewise, the returns for President includes the votes for Vice-President and Senators and Party List; as well as the returns for Congressman; Governors, ViceGovernors, Board Members; Mayors, Vice Mayors and Councilors.  How many votes will one give or credit each candidate without being detected by the watchers and representatives during the canvass of these returns?  Teachers are always the scapegoats of losing candidates. Almost always, most of these poll losers would blame the teachers for alleged misreading or miscounting and misappreciation of ballots or conspiring with their political rivals during the election. This is the reason why most teachers do not want to serve during elections.

The same could be said if Ms. Legarda's
unwarranted charges that only one person prepared the returns of Bohol and Iloilo.  It is impossible how this person could travel from one province to the other considering the length of time needed to prepare one election return.

4.    TARAS and thumbmarks: The lack of thumbmarks or uniformity of taras are not sign of tampering or irregularities.  The lack of thumbmark is mandatory only before election and it is directory after the election.  Lack of thumbmarks is only a formal defect which does not affect the genuineness and due execution of election returns.  Ang iba ay may maliit na thumbmark kasi maliit ang daliri ng mga teachers.

At may mga teachers, lalo na yong mga dalaga at bagong manicure, dulo lang ng daliri ang ginagamit at ayaw madumihan ang daliri at masira ang manicure.

5.     Ms. Legarda also claimed that 32,000 election returns were fabricated in that per return VP De Castro was credited with 70 votes or an additional “2.1 million votes”.  Another incredible and fantastic fairy tale of Ms. Legarda.  By making reference to only two (2) returns, one from Pampanga and one from Cebu, she accused the camp of VP De Castro of fabricating returns prepared by only one person.

Let me emphasize that in the 2004 elections, one set of election returns consisted of 56 sheets.  This is so because a return has to be prepared in seven (7) copies (one each for the Board of Canvassers; Congress; Comelec; Majority Party; Minority Party; NAMFREL; and Ballot Box).  Considering the number of candidates, from President, VP, Senators, Congressmen, Governors, Vice Governors, Board Members, Mayors, Vice Mayors and Councilors, and numerous party list candidates, three (3) pages were allotted for President, VP, Senators and Party Lists; and five (5) pages were allotted for candidates for Congress and local government units, or a total of eight pages, each page with seven (7) copies each, or a total of 56 sheets comprising once election returns.

Hence it would take an average of ten (10) minutes if one has to manufacture all the entries in one complete election returns, complete with signatures initials and thumb marks to make a semblance of an authentic return.  Since Ms. Legarda claims that at least 32,000 returns were allegedly fabricated with only one person making it, such person needs 320,000 minutes or 5,333 hours or 222 days or almost a year to finish fabricating 32,000 returns.  And this fabrication cannot be made BEFORE election because he has to determine first how many voters actually voted and how many votes he has to credit a candidate to insure the victory of his principal.  Kaya, matagal nang tapos ang election patuloy pa rin siyang gumagawa ng returns.

This clearly demonstrates the incredibility and impossibility of Ms. Legarda’s claim that one person fabricated 32,000 returns in favor of Mr. De Castro and the President.

6.     We also find Ms. Legarda’s accusation of missing ballot boxes containing election returns stored in the House of Representatives as uncalled for and an insult to the integrity of the House of Representatives. The delivery of election returns from the various provinces, cities of municipalities to Congress is always undertaken with proper notices to all the parties who are allowed to escort or send their respective representatives to witness the said delivery of election returns. We never heard of any complaint from Ms. Legarda or her political party when these returns were delivered to Congress. We never heard Ms. Legarda present any document to prove her claim that there were 200 ballot boxes containing the returns of the provinces subject of her protest, except her claim that there were only 53 ballot boxes retrieved from the House of Representatives. The best evidence to prove any missing returns is to show the actual receipts issued by Congress when such returns were delivered to the latter. But no such receipt has so far been presented by Ms. Legarda except by immediately jumping into conclusion that there were “missing ballot boxes” and asking “where have all the ballot boxes gone?”

7.    Ms. Legarda is assailing 9,007 returns from five (5) provinces (Sulu, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Tawi-Tawi) and nine (9) municipalities; and 124,404 precincts from 44 provinces consisting of about 20 million ballots to be revised and reviewed by the PET. Mr. De Castro won with 15,100,431 over Legarda’s 14,218,709 votes or a vote-lead of 881,722 for De Castro.

                                                                           ATTY. ROMULO B. MACALINTAL
                                                                           Election Lawyer of PGMA and
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