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                                                                                                           Ms. Ronadale Zapata




18 January 2006

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Vice-President Noli De Castro’s election lawyer reiterated his previous declaration that there was no cheating in the Province of Cebu and vehemently denied former Senator Loren Legarda’s claim that 90% of the ballots from two (2) major cities of the province were found to be spurious by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) where she has a pending protest against De Castro.

In a speech before the Rotary Club of Pasay City where he was the guest speaker this afternoon, presidential and vice-presidential poll lawyer Romulo B. Macalintal said that “if a candidate would allow himself to be cheated by 90% then he or she has no business to be in politics.”

Macalintal stressed that “the results of the actual count of the ballots for Legarda and De Castro from the cities of Mandaue and Lapu Lapu of the Province of Cebu tallied with the results as reflected in the election returns and tally boards. There was no sign of any tampering of the results of the ballot count as well as the votes reflected on the said returns and tally boards.”

“If it were true that 90% of the ballots are spurious, why did not Legarda object to or question the authenticity and due execution of the election returns and tally boards where the said ballot counts were recorded and canvassed by the boards of canvassers? Ms. Legarda is now estopped from questioning the results of the election from these cities because of her failure to object to the said returns”, Macalintal added.

Macalintal also belittled Legarda’s claim that there were ballots of De Castro written in group by one person. “These are mere observations of her revisors which do not bind the PET. In a previous presidential protest filed by Senator Miriam Santiago against former President Fidel Ramos, the Supreme Court reiterated the ruling that revisors’ observations do not bind the tribunal and can never serve as a logical or an acceptable basis for the conclusion that massive fraud or irregularities were committed during an election”, Macalintal said.

            Official records show that in the entire Province of Cebu, President Arroyo garnered 965,630 votes as against FPJ’s 123,099 or a difference of 842,531. In Cebu City, President Arroyo got 220,060 while FPJ obtained 58,591 or a difference of 161,469. This gives President Arroyo a total vote-lead of 1,004,000 (842,531 + 161,469) from the Province of Cebu and Cebu City where the bulk of her 1,123,576 final vote-lead over FPJ came from.

            On the other hand, records show that in the Province of Cebu Vice-President Noli De Castro got 886,910 as against Ms. Legarda’s 198,372 or a difference of 688,538. In Cebu City, De Castro obtained 214,663 while Legarda was credited with 90,499 or a difference of 124,164. This gives VP De Castro a total lead of 812,702 (688,538 + 124,164) in the Province of Cebu and Cebu City which is likewise the bulk of his total or final vote lead of 881,722 over Ms. Legarda.

            “Clearly, with these big uncontrovertible margins established by President Arroyo and Vice-President de Castro in Cebu, it would be impossible for their political rivals and detractors to unseat any of them considering the present trend of revision of ballots from this area as conducted by the PET where no signs of irregularities could be attributed to the presidential and vice-presidential elections”, Macalintal clarified.

            “If there were isolated cases of discovery of fake ballots in Lapu Lapu City, it is very clear that they are the products of post proclamation operation in connection with the protest involving local elective positions since even with the alleged presence of such ballots, the number of ballots of De Castro and Legarda still tallied with those recorded in the returns and tally boards”, Macalintal added.

            “The fact that the count of the ballots tallied with the results shown in the returns which were not objected or contested by any party is a clear manifestation that the election in Cebu was clean and honest thereby confirming that the one million lead of President Arroyo and the 800,000 lead of Vice-President De Castro over their respective rivals were cast for them honestly and cannot be taken away from them”, Macalintal emphasized.

            “Thus, there is no way to invalidate their proclamations as the winning president and vice-president in the 2004 elections and the legitimacy of their administration should be and must be respected. Those who disagree may just wait for the next presidential election or parliamentary polls should charter change materialize within the year”, Macalintal concluded.
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