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WHAT WENT BEFORE: Zubiri’s resignation

/ 05:23 AM August 04, 2011

On June 20, 2007, amid a neck-and-neck race for the 12th spot in the senatorial elections, opposition candidate Aquilino Pimentel III filed a petition in the Supreme Court to stop the Commission on Elections (Comelec) from canvassing what he said were questionable certificates of canvass (COCs) from Maguindanao, which could favor administration candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The high court dismissed Pimentel’s petition eight days later, allowing the Comelec to proceed.

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Pimentel subsequently petitioned the high court for a temporary restraining order on Zubiri’s proclamation as the 12th senator, to no avail.

On July 14, 2007, Zubiri was proclaimed by the Comelec.

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According to the Comelec tally, Zubiri got 11,004,099 votes and Pimentel got 10,984,807, for a margin of 19,292 votes.

Complaint at SET

On July 30, 2007, Pimentel filed a formal complaint in the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) questioning Zubiri’s proclamation as a senator.

Pimentel’s protest covers 2,658 precincts in Maguindanao (1,078), Lanao del Norte (496), Shariff Kabunsuan (291), Basilan (134), Sultan Kudarat (282), Lanao del Sur (161) and Sulu (216).

Zubiri filed a counterprotest and listed a total of 73,265 precincts. He said he was pursuing a recount of the votes in Metro Manila, where he claimed that he and other administration candidates were cheated at the precinct level to favor opposition candidates like Pimentel.

On March 13, 2008, the Supreme Court dismissed Pimentel’s petition contesting the inclusion of the Maguindanao COCs. It said the dispute should be raised to the SET because Zubiri was proclaimed winner by the Comelec acting as the national board of canvassers.

The court added that Pimentel was unable to present evidence to back his claim that the Maguindanao COCs were manufactured.

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Pimentel filed a motion for reconsideration, which the high court denied with finality.

Sufficient cause

On June 17, 2008, the SET found “sufficient cause” to continue the recount of votes in Pimentel’s electoral protest.

In its Resolution No. 001-07, it required the contending parties to designate their “pilot precincts,” which should not be more than 25 percent of the total protested precincts. The 25 percent would refer to 664 precincts in Pimentel’s case, and 18,316 in Zubiri’s.

In a resolution issued in June 2010, the SET gave way to Zubiri’s motion to open an additional 52,000 ballot boxes to prove that he, too, had been cheated.

Pimentel asked the SET to reconsider its decision, saying Zubiri’s expanded counterprotest had “no basis at all.” But the SET junked Pimentel’s petition, prompting him to ask the Supreme Court in January to void the SET resolutions on Zubiri’s expanded counterprotest.

In a letter to the Inquirer in May, Pimentel said he was leading Zubiri by 257,401 votes in his election protest.

Last month, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan claimed that then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her husband had ordered the rigging of the 2007 senatorial elections.

In an unsigned statement, Ampatuan claimed that the Arroyos directed his father, then Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., to ensure that three opposition senators—Benigno Aquino III, Panfilo Lacson and Alan Peter Cayetano—would get “zero votes” in the province.

He said the votes of the three were credited to Zubiri.

Bedol’s claim

A week later, former Maguindanao Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, who is accused of orchestrating cheating for the Arroyo administration, surrendered to authorities after four years in hiding.

In an affidavit submitted to the Comelec, Bedol said he was indeed told by Ampatuan Sr. of Arroyo’s instruction to rig the vote in favor of administration candidates.

On Tuesday, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. announced the formal creation of a joint committee that would look into the purported fraud in the 2004 and 2007 elections. Inquirer Research

Source: Inquirer Archives

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TAGS: Aquilino Pimentel III, certificates of canvass (COCs), Commission on Elections, Juan Miguel Zubiri, Maguindanao, Supreme Court
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