MANILA - Minority lawmakers at the House of Representatives reiterated their call for a congressional inquiry into glitches experienced during the recently concluded midterm elections.
In a news conference on Tuesday, Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, losing senatorial candidate and Magdalo party-list Representative Gary Alejano, Northern Samar 1st District Raul Daza, and Akbayan party-list Representative Tom Villarin pointed out the seven-hour glitch on the Commission on Elections’ transparency server situated at UN Avenue Manila, that caused delays in the posting of results at the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) headquarters and media outlets.
“Like Caesar’s wife the election process has to be beyond suspicion. The Comelec should have been prepared… and shouldn’t have been caught flat-footed,” said Lagman.
Villarin said election fraud took place. Asked for proof and evidence, he said his group will present these at the proper forum.
“Definitely may nangyaring fraud, vote-shaving,” Villarin said.
“We should have an independent probe or if ever Senate or Congress should have an extensive probe on that and dun namin ilalabas ang aming ebidensya,” he added.
The poll body explained that the transparency server, a redundancy server to the main server, merely failed to “push” results to PPCRV and media outlets but the transmission of results from the precincts to the main and canvassing servers continued.
Villarin also questioned winning administration senatorial candidate Bong Go’s 3rd place finish, in spite of the latter’s consistent standing in the pre-election surveys.
“Nakapagtataka Bong Go landing in top 3 from .38-percent of transmission,” he said.
Villarin also questioned “actions by the Comelec before, during, and especially now after the elections,” imputing bias in favor of administration bets.
Alejano, who lost in his Senate bid, for his part said he is in favor of reverting to manual counting of votes.
“Certainly there are doubts… I would like to recommend that we should go back to manual counting at the precinct level. Kahit mayroon kang watcher doon sa precinct level hindi mo naman makikita 'yun. For me, it’s important for the counting to be public.”
Lagman, meantime, stressed the need to amend the Party-List System Act so that only the truly marginalized sectors may qualify for the party-list system.
“I think we have to seriously revisit the party-list law. I am the principal author of this law… that has been bastardized by the Comelec,” he said.
The lawmakers observed that some party-list groups supportive of the administration obtained enough vote to land them seats in Congress, thereby defeating the purpose for the party-list system.
Fearing Congress may be diminished into being a mere “rubber stamp” of Malacañang with the anticipated “super majority” in the two chambers, the minority lawmakers said their fellow legislators should stand their ground in rejecting “Draconian measures.”
“I’m calling on the Senate to reject all draconian measures… like the restoration of the death penalty, lowering of the [minimum age of] criminal responsibility, and I hope that the senators can resist pressure from the administration,” Lagman said.
He also called on his colleagues at the lower chamber to elect a “genuine” minority leader, and not do a repeat of the status quo where minority leader Danilo Suarez, who is known to be supportive of Speaker Gloria Arroyo, was given the minority leadership.
“I’m calling on the 18th Congress to assure that there has to be a legitimate and authentic minority leader. Candidates for Speaker should just choose among themselves one candidate so that no one defeated candidate can become a minority leader. Otherwise, we will just continue what happened in the 17th Congress.”