Press Release
July 10, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today assailed the attempt of Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos to hang on to his post by promising to see to it that the 2007 national and local elections will be clean and orderly.

Pimentel said Abalos should face the reality that the tainted image of Comelec due to fraudulent 2004 presidential election is beyond repair for as long as he stays at the helm of the poll body.

The Comelec cannot recover its credibility simply on the say-so of Chairman Abalos, the minority leader said.

Its credibility has been irreparably tattered by the massive fraud that marred the 2004 election committed with the apparent complicity of Comelec officials, particularly former Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano and his band of operators.

Pimentel said is Abalos really wants to see the credibility of Comelec restored and clean elections held, he should heed the strong clamor by political leaders and common citizenry for his immediate resignation.

Amid the scandal over the P1.3 billion poll computerization project which was voided by the Supreme Court due to anomalies, Abalos has appealed to the people to give him and fellow Comelec officials a chance to prove that they can still be trusted to oversee clean elections.

Pimentel said Chairman Abalos should be held primarily accountable for the fiasco over the project to computerize elections which was awarded to MegaPacific. He said there is a strong ground to believe that Commissioner Resurreccion Borra was singled out by the Office of the Ombudsman for impeachment and prosecution over the deal while Abalos was apparently spared of any liability due to the machination of Malacañang .

The Comelec-MegaPacific deal stinks to high heavens and the public cries for the heads of the responsible Comelec officials, not only Commissioner Borra. To single him out of a stable of equally, if not more, culpable Comelec officials is the height of injustice, he said.

Pimentel said Abalos statement that he will not resign shows his insensitivity to the sentiment of the public that has lost confidence in his leadership in the face of apprehension that the irregularities in the 2004 elections will be repeated next year.

He noted, for instance, the threat of former President Joseph Estrada to campaign for a boycott of the 2007 elections if they will be supervised by the same Comelec officials who bungled the last polls.

Pimentel also criticized Chairman Abalos for doings nothing to investigate and prosecute provincial and city election supervisors and other subordinate officials who conspired with ex-Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano in rigging the outcome of the last presidential elections. He said many of these erring election officials were promoted to higher positions, instead of being dismissed and meted out other sanctions.

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