Press Release
August 10, 2008

Pimentel says automation will put fraud syndicates out of business

Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today said the days of electoral fraud syndicates and so-called special operators are numbered as the automated system of voting and counting is fully implemented in Monday's election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Pimentel challenged the people of ARMM to exercise their right of suffrage and to do their part in the historic efforts to cleanse the tainted electoral process in the region through the wonders of automation.

"I call on the people of the autonomous region to join hands with the political leaders, election authorities and poll watchdog in restoring the integrity and credibility of our electoral process by eliminating cheating practices that have been a perennial problem in that part of the archipelago since time immemorial," he said.

Pimentel said efforts to prevent fraud in past elections, particularly in Muslim provinces in Mindanao, had been frustrated because some high-ranking election officials were in cahoots with the poll cheaters, if not the masterminds of the cheating themselves.

However, he said there are bright hopes that the fight for clean and honest elections will succeed this time with emergence of a new leadership in the Commission on Elections that has shown genuine resolve and courage to achieve this elusive goal.

The senator from Mindanao said the successful use of electronic voting machines and transmission facilities in the ARMM will serve as a vindication of the people of the region who sincerely strive to put and end to the rigging and manipulation of election results and free the Muslim provinces of the stigma as the country's "cheating capital."

He said the automated ARMM elections assumes even greater importance because this will put to a test the voting and transmission machines that will be used in the 2010 national elections.

Pimentel said he was personally briefed by Comelec Chairman Jose Melo and three commissioners at the Comelec main office about preparations for the automated ARMM polls and he said he saw that they exuded confidence that things will go well.

"They told me it's all systems go for the ARMM elections, and they will try to make the announcements of the results in 36 hours," he said.

He said what is causing some apprehension to the Comelec is the threat of some rebels disrupting the elections and harassing voters. But he said he felt relieved by a statement from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front that they will refrain from making troubles even if the rebel group failed in convincing Congress to postpone the polls.

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