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Zubiri rebuts Pimentel claim

Migz: I was cheated, too

By Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 05:02:00 07/24/2009

Filed Under: Elections, Protest, Conflicts (general)

MANILA, Philippines ? Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel ?Migz? Zubiri and his opponent, lawyer Aquilino ?Koko? Pimentel III, have taken their election protest fight outside the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) to the media.

In a rebuttal to Pimentel?s PowerPoint presentation the other day, Zubiri called a press conference Thursday and claimed that he, the winner, was also cheated in the 2007 senatorial election.

Zubiri furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer with a ?summary of preliminary appreciation? of invalid ballots of Pimentel, who filed an election protest after losing the 12th Senate seat to Zubiri by a margin of 19,292 votes.

Contrary to Pimentel?s claim that he was winning the SET recount, Zubiri said that in the count of only three key cities in Metro Manila, he (Zubiri) was already leading by 17,913 votes.

In all 27 opposition-dominated areas, mostly in Metro Manila, Zubiri said he was leading by 132,014 votes compared with Pimentel?s claimed lead of 96,400 votes in seven towns in administration bailiwicks in Mindanao.

In his press conference last Wednesday, Pimentel claimed that he was already winning by a wide margin?96,400?in the recount of votes cast for seven of the nine municipalities covered by his protest.

He said that he had already proven at the SET that he, and not Zubiri, won the 12th senatorial seat.

Lawyers Romulo Macalintal and George Erwin Garcia, counsels for Zubiri, said Pimentel was talking only of about 25 percent of contested precincts.

Pilot precincts

In its Resolution No. 001-07, SET required both parties to designate their ?pilot precincts? which should not be more than 25 percent of the total protested precincts.

In his counterprotest, Zubiri included 73,265 precincts, while Pimentel only went after 2,658 precincts to prove his allegation of cheating.

Twenty-five percent would refer to 664 precincts in the case of Pimentel and 18,316 for Zubiri.

The senator said that as much as he would like to refute Pimentel?s claim by revealing figures from the ?summary of preliminary appreciation,? he said it would be ?improper.?

The election protest process was far from over, ?so any statement seeking to preempt the SET is totally irresponsible and uncalled for,? he said.

Revision of votes

His lawyers explained that Pimentel had finished his revision of votes in February 2008, but the same process for Zubiri?s counterprotest will not be over until October, and a final decision issued by the SET in November or December.

?An election protest that hears only one side is no election protest at all, especially if there is a counterprotest for the record. We are only in the 25 percent of our counterprotest. If [Pimentel] was allowed to revise the 100 percent of his protested areas, why should we be denied the same?? said Zubiri.

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