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UNA to assess midterm elections to prevent fraud in 2016—Tiangco

/ 06:39 PM May 19, 2013

Rep. Toby Tiangco. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines — The United Nationalist Alliance will not rest easy even after the proclamation of all 12 senators.

UNA, which has three victorious senatorial candidates, is still poised to conduct its own assessment of the elections with its lawyers after it has gathered reports from its local candidates and allies on the field, according to campaign manager Tobias Tiangco.

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“We will keep our eyes open and our ears open, but we will not jump to speculations,” Tiangco said in a phone interview.

He said its candidates could have complaints of irregularities, but they must have proper evidence. He is also keeping tabs on reports that some precincts had a 100 percent voter turnout, a matter that could be considered improbable.

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If UNA found anything questionable, it might ask the Commission on Elections to conduct further investigation, said Tiangco. If there was nothing amiss, he would be more than ready to take a much-needed break from election-related matters, he added.

In planning the assessment, the 2016 race is not far from his mind.

He explained that UNA would be keeping its eyes and ears peeled for any loopholes allowing the manipulation of the electoral process so that these could be plugged early and not exploited in the next presidential elections.

Even if a glitch is a minor one and would not affect the overall result of the 2013 polls, it would still be a source of much concern, he said.

“Everyone should be forward looking… Even if it’s an isolated case now, it can later be multiplied all over the country. You would have three years to study how to do it, how to perfect it, in time for 2016,” he said.

This was why any problem uncovered must be addressed this early, he added.

UNA is aiming to be a main contender in the 2016 elections, with its leader, Vice President Jejomar Binay, expected to bid for the presidency. Binay’s impending run for the top executive post was a frequent theme during the campaign.

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Earlier, UNA raised questions about the integrity of the election data and had sought the deferment of the proclamation of the winning candidates. It noted that a Smartmatic personnel was found to have allegedly manipulated the data at the command center of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, which was conducting its own unofficial tally of the results.

The Comelec denied UNA’s plea and went on with the proclamation. The last three winning candidates were proclaimed Saturday evening.

Meanwhile, UNA candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri, who ranked 14th overall with 11.7 million votes, said he had no regrets about joining politics even as he accepted his defeat.

Zubiri, in a statement, noted that the campaign was not easy.

“And after a long and challenging campaign, one rocked with limited resources and, at times, the survival of constant mudslinging, which is part of the political exercise, the people have spoken and the votes have been counted and it seems fate is pointing me to another direction,” he said.

His 13 years in public service were “the best years of my life,” he said.

“I have no regrets and worked as hard as I could to make a difference in the lives of our people,” he added.

He thanked Vice President Jejomar Binay for believing in him, as well as his supporters and all those who voted for him.

Zubiri said he was ready to move on and embark on a life as a civilian.

“I will continue to support and do my part to help heal the divisions of this nation and continue to work and pray for the success of our leaders,” he said.

Zubiri resigned from the Senate in 2011 amid allegations that he benefited from cheating in the 2007 elections. At that time, the electoral protest of Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was gaining ground, and a few days later, the Comelec proclaimed him senator.

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TAGS: Election Highlights, Elections 2013, Politics, Tobias Tiangco, UNA
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