More witnesses vs poll fraud coming out, says Brillantes
More witnesses are willing to come out to reveal cheating and other anomalies in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial polls, Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Friday.
Brillantes told reporters “17 or 18” people had sent him feelers, either through text messages or phone calls, expressing their intention to testify.
He said some of them were Comelec employees. Some have filed affidavits, but he said the Comelec would not be making them public for the meantime until the joint Comelec-Department of Justice special investigating committee was created.
“Many want to talk. Most come from Mindanao. Some are asking for fare, but we said no. Come here on your own,” Brillantes said.
“We’re still verifying everything,” he added.
Brillantes said that “the major players are already out,” pointing to Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago and other police officers, dismissed Maguindanao provincial Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, suspended Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Zaldy Ampatuan and three Comelec employees.
Brillantes said he was still hoping that former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, who is reportedly set to hold a press conference today, would reveal what he knew about the cheating allegations.
“It’s just a matter of Garcillano coming out so that we can have the complete picture. So far, he hasn’t sent us any feeler. We’ll just listen to what he’s going to say,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes said he had seen four of the election returns that Santiago and his men claimed to have stolen from Batasang Pambansa.
“Based on our examination, they’re authentic… It’s very clear that those ERs are the Congress’ copies,” he said.
Brillantes said he and Justice Secretary De Lima would discuss next week the composition, jurisdiction and rules of the Comelec-DOJ joint committee that will look into cheating allegations.
He said the hearings of the committee would be public.
Asked if the committee could call ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to appear, he said: “If you are called, you can appear or you can refuse to appear. There are no arrest warrants here because it’s only for preliminary investigation.”
Brillantes said Arroyo would only be summoned if there was evidence against her.
“So far, there’s still no direct testimony about her involvement. Everything’s been hearsay so far. But if somebody comes out pointing at her, that’s different,” he said.
Videos of cheating
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Friday admitted that videos of the alleged break-in at the Batasang Pampansa building to steal election returns would remain “useless” unless the man who shot it would testify.
The videos are a collection of eight short clips with a total duration of 56 seconds.
He said contact had been made with the man—earlier identified as retired Inspector Ramon Garcia—to convince him to explain the contents and circumstances surrounding the videos.
“The one who took the video is not in the country,” he said. “But there is already contact with him and he is thinking about it.”
Lacson has the videos, copies of which were turned over to him by retired Leiutenant Joel Pinawin on Thursday.
Malacañang expressed no surprise at allegations linking former First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo to the switching of election returns kept at the House of Representatives in 2004.
“We can’t really say that we are surprised. Even way back 2004, there were already reports that came out involving the former First Gentleman,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte told reporters.
Told that Mike Arroyo had branded the allegations against him as hearsay, Valte said it would be up to the investigators and the courts, if charges are filed, to determine the value of the evidence being presented. With reports from Christian V. Esguerra and Norman Bordadora
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