Press Release
June 29, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today proposed that the last vacant slot in the seven-member Commission on Elections should be filled by appointing a nominee of the opposition to allay the peoples fears of cheating in the 2007 polls especially in view of the refusal of Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos to heed the strong clamor for his resignation.

While stressing that the Comelec should act as an independent and non-partisan body, Pimentel said it may be necessary to put an opposition representative in the poll body due to the extraordinary circumstances where the public confidence in, and credibility of Comelec have been badly eroded by the massive fraud that marred the 2004 presidential election, as evidenced by the Hello Garci tapes and falsified poll documents uncovered by the opposition.

The Comelec should be non-partisan. Putting members of the Comelec on the basis of party considerations is a bad thing. But it may be justified only by extreme circumstances such as, for instance, the environment surrounding the Comelec today where loyalty to the President as the appointing power appears to be the rule, he said.

The minority leader said the people are apprehensive the coming polls will again be marred by large-scale cheating because of the continued presence of Chairman Abalos who is widely perceived to be beholden to Malacañang and who was suspected to have conspired with former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in the rigging of the result of the 2004 presidential derby.

Pimentel lamented that the recommendation of retired Chief Justice Hilario Davide, Jr., in his capacity as presidential adviser on electoral reforms, for a revamp of the top officialdom of the Comelec has remained unfulfilled.

He said that without a reformed and a revamped Comelec, the Filipino people will remain cynical about President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos pledge to cleanse the electoral process.

So that the people may know about the innermost workings of the Comeles and be assured of their transparency and integrity, they must have someone whose probity is beyond question, Pimentel said.

He recalled that during the martial law years, Ramon Felipe was appointed by then President Ferdinand Marcos as Comelec commissioner upon the suggestion of the opposition.

He said Felipes presence in the Comelec led to the election of some 50 members of the Batasang Pambansa in 1984.

Gloria may not want a repeat of that event where people opposed to the administration landed in various positions of the then legislature. Yet, it may be the only way by which the results of the elections in 2001 may be accepted by the people, Pimentel said.

The present Comelec is composed of Chairman Abalos and Commissioners Resurreccion Borra, Florentino Tuason, Romeo Brawner, Rene Sarmiento and Nicodemo Ferrer.

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