Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Belmonte's triumph is also the triumph of Truth

The Comelec En Banc reaffirmed the decision of the Comelec 2nd Division sometime in the last week of September 2007.

Congressman Vicente "Varf" Belmonte was proclaimed as the official Representive of 1st District of Lanao del Norte and Iligan City.

He took his oath immediately in the House of Congress which was officiated by House Speaker Jose de Venecia.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Comelec rule: set aside tampered CoCs and recanvass using authentic CoCs

Republic of the Philippines
Intramuros, Manila




-versus- SPC NO. 07-254
JUL 10 2007
Per Curism


This is perhaps one of the more controversial cases pending with this Commission. Owing to the personalities involved and the issues herein raised, the Commission must proceed with proper caution and examine the facts and issues of this case with a fine toothed comb to arrive at the truth and ensure that the will of the electorate must be protected.

This is an appeal from the rulings of the SPBOC in the three (3) separate Petitions to Exclude the Certificates of Canvass (COC) of use these returns in the canvass votes. The broad power of the Commision to enforce and administer election laws gives it ample authority to direct the board of canvassers to include in the canvass only authentic returns. It is only when the disputed returns concerned will not affect the results of the election that the said returns claimed to be falsified need not be verified and canvass to proceed and proclamation made.16

In Pala Dipatuan vs. Commission on Elections et. al.17 the ruling therein would have square application in this controversy.

“It is evident from the above quuote3d portion [the 1st and 2nd paragraphs of Sec. 15, RA. No. 7166] that the prohibition is not absolute. Such pre-proclamation controversies are allowed (a)when there are manifest errors in the certificate of canvass or in the election returns, as the case maybe, and (b) when the composition of proceedings of the board are questioned. In the instant case may be, and (b) when the composition or proceedings of the board are questioned. In the instant case, there was more than manifest error in the questioned COC for the municipality of Madamba. As ruled by the PBC – and as affirmed in the challenged resolution of the COMELEC en banc and its first division – there was, infact, a substitution of the authentic copy of the COC with the spurious one: the latter, which the petitioner wants to be honored, was ordered excluded in the canvass. As we ruled in Pangarungan (supra), the Commission committed no grave error of dicretion in excluding spurious COC and in directing in excluding the spurious COC and in directing the PBC to prepare a new COC on the basis of the COMELEC copies of the election returns of Madamba” (SC Minutes En Banc, Thursday, December 10, 1992, pp. 19-20. Emphasis supplied.)

WHEREFORE, premises considered, the Commission (Second Division) resolves to GRANT the Petition and the questioned Rulings of the respondent MBC is hereby REVERESED AND SET ASIDE. The questioned COCs are hereby ordered excluded and should not be canvassed.

The Board of Canvassers is hereby directed to RECONVENE here in Manila (for security purposes) and issue a new certificate of canvass of votes excluding the election returns subject of this appeal and substituting the proper entries as are evident in the authentic copies of the COC and from the authentic copies of the election returns related to the subject COCs. The winning candidate who garners the most number of votes in accordance with our observation shall after proper canvass be proclaimed by the Board of Canvassers.


Presiding Commissioner

Commissioner Commissioner


I hereby certify that the conclusions in the foregoing resolution were reached in the consultation with the other members of the Commission before the same was assigned to the writer of the opinion for the Commission (Second Division)

Presiding Commissioner

16 Agpalo, Comments on the Omnibus Election Code, 2004 ed., p. 408 409. see Pacis vs. Comelec, 22 SCRA 539

17 G.R. No. 107815

Thursday, 5 July 2007

COMMENT: On Wings of Doubt

Written by Patricio P. Diaz / MindaNews
Sunday, 01 July 2007 11 15 25

GENERAL SANTOS CITY – As June 30 neared, the Commission on Elections was in an acid test. It had to resolve election controversies to pave the way for the smooth transfer of offices from the outgoing to the incoming elective officials. Two such controversies involved the elections in Maguindanao and in the first district of Lanao del Norte.

The critical question: Would it ignore clear indicators of frauds and resolve the two election controversies in favor of pro-administration candidates? It had the power and it could find the justifications to do so; but these would only strengthen -- not dispel -- doubts.

In Maguindanao

Genuine Opposition candidate Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the Commission from canvassing the highly irregular Maguindanao senatorial votes. But at the hearing on June 28, the Court ruled Pimentel had “no concrete proof that the Maguindanao election documents were irregular” and it did not issue a temporary restraining order.

Justice Cancio Garcia said that Pimentel “was only assuming the documents were tainted with fraud” and that if a TRO was issued on “mere assumption, we are disenfranchising voters from 22 municipalities”.

Justice Adolf Azcu├▒a said the unprecedented Commission’s procedures in gathering documents to support the provincial CoCs without following its usual rules was called for by “an unusual situation”. These were the very same procedures Pimentel had called highly irregular.

Indeed, the Maguindanao situation was unusual. Were the “unprecedented” Comelec procedures justified? Were the integrity of the CoCs and other documents unquestionable?

If so, why did the Court – voting unanimously in denying the issuance of a TRO – not dismiss the entire petition outright? Instead, it ordered “all parties to submit their memoranda within ten days for the main case”.

The order was puzzling. What was it for? The Court ruled fraud had not been proven and it justified the Commission’s actions. The twelfth winning senatorial candidate could have taken his oath by the tenth day should the Commission go ahead with the canvass and proclamation. Any decision on the merit of the petition would be moot and academic.

Just Assumptions

Were the frauds in the Maguindanao election just assumptions? In the first provincial canvass based on the first copies of the municipal CoCs, Zubiri had 133,321 votes, second to Luis “Chavit” Singson’s 136,044 (MindaNews, May 18). In the re-canvass, he topped the TU 12-0 sweep with 195,823 votes (, June 29) – his votes increasing by 62,504.

If the CoCs were not concrete proof of fraud, what is fraud? If the two sets of CoCs were copies of the same documents, one set was tampered; otherwise, they were separately fabricated. The documents were concrete; the inference was from concrete evidence.

In the first canvass, no representatives of the candidates, no accredited Comelec watchers and no media members were allowed to witness. In the re-canvass, the lawyers of the opposition were not allowed to question the CoCs or the procedures. This was irregular and not assumed.

A month after the Maguindanao election officials had ignored their order to submit copies of the municipal CoCs to support the questioned provincial CoC, Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos and two commissioners came and collected from the Maguindanao municipal election officers the “second” and “fourth” copies of the municipal CoCs.

The commissioners assumed these as authentic. Could it not be as rightly assumed that these were fabricated? As observed by GO lawyer Sixto Brillantes, the second copies which were the copies posted outside the precincts did not bear staple or tape marks. This was unusual!


After the Court had denied Pimentel’s petition for a TRO, the Commission decided to go ahead with the canvassing of the Maguindanao votes. (, June 29). As expected, it did. After overruling all motions and questions of the opposition lawyers, the votes were canvassed Friday afternoon, June 29. (, June 30)

Contrary to his expectation, Zubiri was still trailing Pimentel, who was hanging precariously by 4,923 votes. With the Maguindanao votes, Zubiri could have led Pimentel by over 18,000 had it not been for Pimentel’s winning margins from the late CoCs from Basilan, Marawi and Lanao del Sur which were canvassed last Thursday (, June 29).

Pimentel’s mathematical chance of keeping the twelfth senatorial slot depends on his votes from Barira and 10 precincts in Kabuntalan both in Shariff Kabunsuan and from Bogo in Cebu and Bais in Negros Oriental. Zubiri is sure of landslides in Barira and Kabuntalan. Bogo and Bais have 80,000 voters. Can Pimentel win big there to pad his slim 4,293 vote-margin?

The odds appear even. Neither Pimentel nor Zubiri could join the installation of the earlier proclaimed senators-elect. One of them will, perhaps, next week. Canvassing will resume on Monday.

Should Zubiri win because of Maguindanao, his six-year mandate will be on the wings of doubt like that of President Arroyo. While Zubiri cannot be accused of cheating, being just an eager beneficiary, his victory will ever be tainted by statistical improbability.

A ruling by the Supreme on merit that, indeed, the Maguindanao documents were authentic beyond reasonable doubt could give Zubiri a convenient cover. Denial of a TRO could not do that. The Commission could have waited but it did not. Its own credibility is also on the wings of doubt.

In Lanao del Norte

On Tuesday, June 26, the second division of the Commission received from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and from the Liberal Party their copies for the certificates of canvass for the municipalities of Maigo, Bacolod and Kauswangan as evidence that the CoCs from the three towns used by the provincial board of canvassers had been tampered. (MindaNews, June 26)

The Commission created the Lanao del Norte District 1 controversy when last June 1, it ordered the canvassing of votes from Bacolod, Kauswagan and Maigo in spite of evidence that the boxes containing the certificates of canvass were forcibly opened last May 19 in the capital town of Tubod where the boxes had been deposited.

After the canvassing of the three questioned CoCs, Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo of Lakas-MCD vaulted to first from poor third – her 17,000 vote-lag behind Vicente “Varf” Belmonte of Genuine Opposition transforming to a 7,000 vote-lead. Not only that! The total number of votes casts for three top candidates increased from 22,285 to 28,017.

While ignoring Belmonte’s protest, the Commission restrained the provincial board of canvassers from declaring a winner – a toothless restriction. The canvass clothed the tampered CoCs with authenticity that gave Dimaporo a legal basis to petition for her proclamation.

As of last June 26, the case was still being heard in Manila. There has been no report of the final result. Did the authentic copies of the CoCs from PPCRV and the Liberal Party convince the Commission of the tampering? And Belmonte’s counsel pointed out that in the tampered Kauswagan CoC, “the padded figures for Dimaporo exceeded the total number of voters” in the municipality. (MindaNews, June 26).

Who did the Commission eventually proclaim as the elected representative of Lanao del Norte District 1? If Dimaporo, her three-year mandate will also float on the wings of doubt. Doubly so will the credibility of the Commission. ("Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate.")

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Comelec receives CoC copies of PPCRV from 3 Lanao Norte towns

Written by Violeta M. Gloria / MindaNews
Tuesday, 26 June 2007 23 09 06

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/26 June) -- The second division of the Commission on Elections in Manila today received copies of the certificates of canvass (CoCs) of Maigo, Bacolod and Kauswagan towns in Lanao del Norte from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and Liberal Party during a hearing on the contested votes for the congressional post of the 1st district of Iligan and Lanao del Norte. The second division composed of Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer and Jaime Tuazon asked lawyers of both parties to write their positions in a memorandum and submit it within five days.
Lawyer Voltaire Rivera, who attended the hearing for congressional candidate Vicente “Varf” Belmonte of the Genuine Opposition, said the Comelec will now decide whether to use the authentic copies they brought or the alleged tampered CoCs “in proclaiming the genuine representative of the 1st District of Iligan and Lanao del Norte.”

The GO asked Comelec to “set aside the tampered CoCs from Maigo, Bacolod and Kauswagan towns.”

Lawyer Dino Quijano of Lakas-CMD who also attended the hearing in Manila, told DXLS that Lakas-CMD lead lawyer Pete Quirino Quadra argued that the Comelec has no jurisdiction to hear the controversy and must deny the petition of the GO lawyers.

But while Quadra argued that Comelec has no jurisdiction, he also motioned that Imelda Dimaporo be proclaimed as the winner using the Statement of Votes based on the alleged tampered figures of Maigo and Bacolod towns.
According to the final, unofficial count of Namfrel as of 5 pm May 19, Belmonte got 58,962 votes against Team Unity-backed candidates Angelique Dawn Badelles (45,670) and Imelda Dimaporo (42,956).

In a statement, the Iligan Movement for True Democracy, Belmonte’s support group, alleged that on May 19, “poll watchers from the opposition were disallowed to enter the provincial legislative building where provincial canvassing was being done."

"The following morning, our lawyers found out that three ballot boxes from the towns of Bacolod, Maigo and Kauswagan were forcibly opened," the group related.

The group alleged the votes from the three towns were tampered and that based on these tampered votes, Dimaporo was now leading.

Ms Dimaporo, the outgoing governor, is wife to reelected 2nd district Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo, the governor before her, and is mother to Khalid, the incoming governor.

The special provincial board of canvassers in Lanao del Norte has set aside the tampered CoCs of Kauswagan because the padded figures for Dimaporo exceeded the total number of voters in Kauswagan, making it statistically improbable.

Lawyer Manny Salibay, counsel of Belmonte, explained to reporters that “Comelec has no power over pre-proclamation cases for representative except if there are manifest errors in the certificates of canvass which maybe corrected by the canvassing board motu propio or upon written complaint of interested person, or by the Comelec in a petition filed or upon proper appeal from the ruling of the board of canvassers.”
Lawyer Sixto Brilliantes, lead counsel of Belmonte, also said the petition to dismiss the case arguing lack of jurisdiction is a “prohibited pleading under the Rule of Procedures of Comelec.”

“Under the law, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal, composed of three judges and six congressmen, will have jurisdiction on election protest only if there is already a proclaimed representative," explained lawyer Arthur Abundiente, counsel of GO.

In the case of Lanao, the special PBOC has not proclaimed a winner yet because Comelec made a directive to “proceed with the canvass… but not to proclaim the winner.” The directive was signed by Nicodemo Ferrer who also sits at the second division of Comelec now.

Meanwhile, Bishop Elenito de los Reyes Galido together with priests in Iligan city and Lanao del Norte celebrated mass at Saint Michael's cathedral Monday night “for truth to prevail.”

Bishop Galido urged the faithful to pray for the Holy Spirit to intercede, "enlighten and inspire those who are working for truth.”

“We may have fears, doubts and uncertainties but the Holy Spirit is our only refuge and our salvation. We must continuously pray,” he said in his homily. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 June 2007 23 16 53 )

Sukhran to MindaNews

Monday, 18 June 2007


(More than 50,000 people of Iligan city and Lanao del Norte signed this statement demanding Comelec en banc to head the call for truth and justice. A copy of this was submitted to Comelec en Banc.)


The 3 tampered ballot boxes from the towns of Maigo, Bacolod and Kauswagan showed that the Certificates of Canvas (CoC) inside are also tampered with snowpake and erasures.

Inspite of vehement protests that these tampered CoCs should not be used for the canvassing, the PBOC proceeded.

The canvassed results based on these tampered CoCs showed that the tallies do not coincide with the CoCs of the minority party and the PPCRV. The tally is statistically improbable based on the total voters turnout.

This created an atmosphere of doubt, uncertainty and anger in the minds of the people of District 1 Lanao del Norte.


1. We appeal that the Comelec en banc will head our call and struggle for TRUTH, JUSTICE AND PEACE to triumph in this election;

2. That the Municipal Certificates of Canvass inside the tampered ballot boxes of Kauswagan, Bacolod and Maigo should be excluded in the basis for proclaiming a Representative to the House of Congress for District 1 Lanao del Norte.

3. We ask Comelec en banc to proclaim our representative that is truly chosen by electorates of Iligan and Lanao del Norte as reflected in the authentic copies of CoCs held by Namfrel/PPCRV, majority and minority parties;

4. We also plea for parties in this electoral exercise not to “commit acts inimical to the essence of democracy and fair play”.

This movement is conceived by the religious and the civil society of Lanao del Norte as a movement by the people to ensure for themselves that their leaders is their choice based on their will as written in the ballot.

Official statement of Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA) on Lanao Election Crisis


(This official statement of Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA) sent and read at DXLS Love Radio of Iligan city on June 18, 2006)

Ang kalihukang pagpakabana sa katawhan kabahin sa pagpalutaw sa kamatuoran sa tinuod nga giboto sa katawhan nagpakita nga nahigmata na ang katawhan sa dakbayan sa Iligan ug probinsya sa Lanao sa kabililhon ug kasagrado sa boto. Bisan tuod napili ug gisulat sa katawhan ang usa ka kandidato sa unsa man nga kahimtang, gawas tungod sa kahadluk, kini pagailhon nga iyang kagustohan sa kaugalingon ug angay nga respitohan. Busa natural nga dili tiaw ang pagabation sa tawo kung ang iyang boto panamastamasan. Bisan gani kung ang boto tua gitahan sa kandidato nga wala buligi sa kahigayonan dili lalim ang pagabation sa hingtungdan kung kini maapil sa gipanamastamasan sa binuang nga buhat. Busa ang Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates kun LAHRA midayig ug misuporta sa kalihukang pagpakabana sa nahigmata nga katawhan sa paghatag og bili sa ilang katungod ug kasagrado sa boto.

Ang LAHRA miapil sa Movement for Truth Justice and Peace (MTJP) tungod kay kini nagpakita nga nanalipod sa katungod sa katawhan labi na ang katungod sa boto sa katawhan ug kasagrado niini. Usa ka linuog nga binuhatan ang klaro kaayo nga pagguba sa kandado ug ballot boxes nga gisudlan sa Certificate of Canvass (COCs) sa munisipyo sa Maigo, Bacolod ug Kauswagan, dungagan pa sa pag-usab sa ihap sa boto nga nasulat sa mga COCs. Klaro kaayo nga giusab ang ihap sa boto tungod sa klarong snowpake ug klaro nga lahi na kaayo kini ikompara sa mga dobling kopya sa COCs nga anaa sa PPCRV-NAMFREL, Liberal Party ug uban pa. Busa usa kini ka pagpanamastamas, tamparos ug insulto sa mabuot nga katawhang botante sa Maigo, Bacolod, Kauswagan ug sa mahilambigit niini nga boto sa katawhan sa Iligan ug sa ubang munisipyo sa Lanao del Norte. Ang binuang nga buhat nga pag-usab sa boto sa katawhan usa ka pagpasipala ug pagyatak sa boto sa Kristiano, Muslim ug Lumad sa Lanao Norte ug Iligan busa ang kalihukan sa pagpangita sa kamatuoran sulod sa Movement for Truth Justice and Peace (MTJP) gihiusahan sa mga Muslim, Kristiano ug Lumad. Si bisan kinsa man ang naghimo sa klarong pag-usab sa boto sa COCs kini kondenahon sa MTJP. Dili kini isyu sa managlahi nga pagtuo ug banagbatok sa Muslim ug Kristiano.

Usa ka pagsimang sa isyu ang gipakaylap sa nasuko sa Movement for Truth, Justice and Peace nga ang kalihukang pagpangita sa kamatuoran sa nagpakabanang katawhan maghaling lang kuno og away o kagubot tali sa Muslim ug Kristiano. Angay nato nga mahibaloan nga dili tanang Muslim uyon sa pagpanikas tungod kay wala itudlo sa tinuohang Islam ang dautang buhat sa pagpanikas, ang Islam katarung ug kalinaw.

Ania kini nga krisis karon sa resulta sa eleksyon tungod sa dayag nga pagpanikas, gibaliwala na ang kaulaw sa nahitabo sa Lanao Norte, Davao Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu ug halos sa tibuok nasud aron lang maseguro sa administrasyong GMA nga mayoriya sa mga kongresista iyang kadapig aron mapanalipdan si GMA sa pagpalagpot pinaagi sa impeachment sa Ubos Balay Balaoranan. Ang mga kadapig ni GMA nga anaa sa ubos nga posisyon nagsunod lamang kang GMA sa iyang walay ulaw nga pagmaniubra sa 2004 nga eleksyon, igo lang sila gasunod sa giingon sa english nga, “leader is model, follow the leader”. Kini legasiya sa GMA-Garci nga kontrobersya.

Busa nakita sa LAHRA nga hangtud walay hustisya ang sagradong boto sa katawhan sa 2004 ug karong bag-o nga eleksyon magpadayon ang kalihukang sa katawhang Lumad, Muslim ug Kristiano pagpangita sa kamatuoran.


Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (LAHRA)
Hunyo 15, 2007

Friday, 15 June 2007


The statement below appears at the second frontpage of Philippine Daily Inquirer Newspaper today, June 16, 2007.

On the morning of May 20, 2007 the ballot boxes containing the certificate of canvass (CoCs) of Kauswagan, Bacolod, and Maigo towns of Lanao del Norte were tampered. The official investigation of the National Bureau of Invesigation (NBI) reports that said boxes were forcibly opened.

On June 16, 2007 the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) opened these tampered boxes. Indeed, the CoCs inside were found tampered too. The tallies opposite the names of Badelles, Belmonte and Dimaporo were covered with snowpake and new figures were written over it.

Inspite vehement protests, the PBOC proceeded in canvassing using the controversial CoCs.

The canvassed results out of these tampered CoCs showed that the tallies do not coincide with the CoCs held by the minority party, Peoples Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), National Secretariat of Social Action (NASSA) and Namfrel. The tally is statistically improbable based on the total voters’ turnout.

We have held prayer vigils, rallies, and peaceful demonstrations to show that we want the true people’s voice heard.

We are letting the rest of the Filipino people know through this announcement that the people of Lanao del Norte and Iligan city will fight to get the truth out. We are not going to stand idly while our rights are violated.

OUR APPEAL TO THE COMELEC MUST BE HEARD. The tampered municipal certificates of canvass of Kauswagan, Bacolod and Maigo MUST BE EXCLUDED in determining the winning candidate for the 1st Congressional District of Lanao del Norte. Comelec must decide on this immediately.


Non-governmental organizations, Peoples Organizations, Religious Groups, Media, Local Government Unit and concern citizens