Aquino told: Be wary of ‘Garci boys’ still in Comelec, ARMM
BAGUIO CITY— Now that elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) are likely to proceed, President Benigno Aquino III should begin sorting through poll officials in that region “because there are still “Hello Garci” elements lurking in the Commission on Elections,” former Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said here on Saturday.
Pimentel was one of the lawyers who asked the Supreme Court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing Malacañang from appointing caretaker officials in ARMM who will replace the elected governor and the regional assembly whose terms expire on September 30.
He was at the University of Baguio here on Saturday to deliver a lecture.
The President signed into law Republic Act No. 10153, which reset the August 8 ARMM elections to coincide with the 2013 national and local polls. The Palace proposed to appoint a caretaker ARMM government until 2013.
“There are other Garci boys who are still there in Mindanao,” Pimentel said, referring to election officials who were allegedly behind election cheating and who have yet to be exposed.
“Hello Garci” was the phone greeting allegedly made by former President Macapagal-Arroyo to then Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano during the 2004 presidential election.
The recordings triggered a scandal that forced Arroyo to apologize on television for her “lapse in judgment.”
Pimentel said they believe the TRO issued by the Supreme Court on September 13 had made the ARMM elections this year “a big possibility.”
“The TRO, while temporary, would be hard to overturn because voting at the SC was 8 in favor and 4 against,” he said.
Malacañang has been given 15 days to appeal the TRO.
“The elections would have taken place on August 8 but it was overtaken by events. I am arguing that Comelec has ample power to move the elections when prevented by supervening cause. Supervening cause in this case includes the passage of RA 10153, the very law that deferred the election,” Pimentel said.
He said the government’s efforts to cleanse ARMM politics now means it has a stake in ensuring clean elections in the region.
Instead of postponing the elections, Pimentel said the Palace could have supported candidates who subscribe to the same “messianic objectives for social change.” Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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