18 August 2011 – Recent events—the resignation of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the assumption to the Senate of Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III after winning his four-year-old electoral protest at the Senate
Electoral Tribunal, the surfacing of former Commission on Elections provincial election
supervisor Lintang Bedol and former Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano—have brought
electoral anomalies of the past back to the center of public attention, providing us an excellent
opportunity to address unresolved electoral issues with an eye towards introducing and
implementing reforms to protect votes in future elections.
The resignation of Mr. Zubiri and the subsequent proclamation of Mr. Pimentel confirm what
many had already suspected in 2007—that electoral irregularities had a material effect on the
senatorial election’s results. While some may consider the matter closed after the Senate
Electoral Tribunal released the results of its investigation confirming the true count of the 2007
electoral exercise, in fact we should delve deeper into how these anomalies occurred and who
was responsible for them.
At the same time, the reappearance of Lintang Bedol and Virgilio Garcillano provides the
Comelec an opportunity to investigate what really happened in the 2004 elections, particularly in
some provinces of Mindanao, which were at the heart of the “Hello Garci” tapes. One may recall
that even the Administration at that time indicated that the tapes were real. Such an investigation
should focus on how the irregularities were perpetrated and identifying the perpetrators,
regardless of the final outcome of the elections.
We welcome the formation by the Department of Justice and Comelec of the joint panel that will
investigate allegations of the rigging of election results in 2004 and 2007. The DOJ and Comelec
must ensure that a thorough, transparent, and impartial probe be undertaken so that the
restoration of the people’s trust in our electoral processes can begin.
While it may be too late to turn back the clock for some who had been unjustly deprived of their
rightful electoral mandate, it is not too late to correct the problems and undertake the reforms
that will ensure that these electoral anomalies do not occur again in the future.