Drilon not aware of election return substitution
BACOLOD CITY, Philippines—The co-chair of the national canvassing board that declared Gloria Macapagal Arroyo winner of the 2004 presidential election said Saturday he wasn’t aware of an operation to replace genuine election returns with fake ones to ensure an Arroyo victory then.
Senator Franklin Drilon, who was Senate president and co-chair of the national canvassing board in 2004, said the board’s role at that time was just to report out results of the election as given to them.
He said he wasn’t aware that there was an operation to cheat for Arroyo at that time.
Drilon headed the national canvassing board with then Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. that proclaimed Arroyo winner of the 2004 presidential election.
Drilon said, however, that anyone found guilty of cheating in that election should be punished to strike fear in the hearts of anyone who would attempt to do the same thing in the future.
He said at a news conference in E. B. Magalona town that he supports the investigation to be conducted by the Department of Justice and the Commission on Elections into the revelations of Senior Superintendent Rafael Santiago that his team staged a series of break-ins at the Batasan Pambansa from January to February 2005 to switch election returns to ensure that the proclamation of Arroyo as winner would not be overturned by the Supreme Court, which as presidential electoral tribunal, was evaluating at the time an election protest filed by the late actor Fernando Poe Jr.
Drilon said the probe was part of a “cleansing process.”
“I am confident that it will not be just another investigation with no conclusion as experienced in the past,” he said.
“In the past we did not have the environment that would lead to a successful prosecution. We easily forget that the past administration issued Executive Order 464 that effectively prevented the legislature from exercising its oversight functions,” he said.
EO 464, issued by Arroyo on September 26, 2005, prevented Cabinet members, police and military generals, senior national security officials, and “such other officers as may be determined by the President” to attend congressional hearings unless granted permission by her.
The investigations into poll fraud are necessary even if some people are pessimistic about their outcome, Drilon said.
“I am confident in the country’s new Ombudsman, that she will really perform her constitutional mandate of cleaning up our government of all of these shenanigans,” he added.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.