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Oct 26th
Home Columns Sen. Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. Sen. Pimentel Says Martial Law Might Have Been Declared to Conceal Electoral Fraud
Sen. Pimentel Says Martial Law Might Have Been Declared to Conceal Electoral Fraud PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - This Week With Nene Pimentel
Written by Senator Pimentel's Press Office   
Monday, 07 December 2009 11:12

S enate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. today urged the Comelec to take custody of the ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia reportedly confiscated along with a cache of firearms and ammunition by military units that raided the Ampatuan mansions recently.


He said that one possible reason for the martial law declaration might be to cover up the massive fraud that marred the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections in the province.


The opposition leader said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts are afraid that the Ampatuans may expose the rigging of election results in Maguindanao that enabled her to win over opposition challenger Fernando Poe, Jr. in the 2004 elections and administration candidates to sweep the senatorial polls in the province in 2007.


“The Ampatuans have threatened that if the government would nail them down, they would reveal what really happened in the past two elections,” Pimentel said.


He said he was informed that during the series of raids conducted by the military and police forces, they discovered and confiscated ballot boxes containing election documents.


The minority leader said he was also told that election officials assigned to the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao have been ordered to examine and take custody of the documents.


He said he is worried that the election documents may be tampered with or destroyed because certain election officials in the ARMM were involved in the cheating operations in the 2004 and 2007 polls.


Mr. Pimentel said it should be the officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila that should scrutinize and take custody of these documents. He suggested that the team from Comelec main office to be dispatched to Maguindanao should be led by Atty. Fernando Rafanan, head of the legal department.


“But due to martial law, the public may not be able to know what is happening. The people are afraid to speak.  Even journalists may not be able to report the truth because of threat to their lives. Warrantless arrest are being enforced and they can be picked up on order of martial law authorities,” he said.


Mr. Pimentel said he finds no legal grounds for declaring martial law as a means of going after the perpetrators of the November 23 massacre of 57 innocent civilians.


He argued that the conditions laid down by the Constitution for imposing martial law are not present in Maguindanao, specifically the threat of rebellion and invasion by an external force.


Senator Pimentel says President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts are afraid that the Ampatuans may expose the rigging of election results in Maguindanao that enabled her to win in the 2004 elections and administration candidates to sweep the senatorial polls in 2007.



“What happened in Maguindanao was that members of the Mangudadatu family and their companions, including lawyers and journalists were ambushed, abducted and massacred.  Where is rebellion there?” the senator from Mindanao said.


S enator Pimentel said even military commanders dispatched to Maguindanao reported that while they were able to confiscate huge cache of firearms and ammunition from the weapons arsenal of the Ampatuans, they saw no indication that these political warlords and their followers were attempting to fight back.


“Clearly, there is no basis for the claim that there is a threat of rebellion from the Ampatuans.  May be this is just a gimmick to say there is a ground for martial law. But as I see it, this is just a ploy to hide the evidence of massive cheating in the last elections,” he said.


Senator Pimentel said he and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile have agreed that the Senate will first meet at 9 a.m. today (Monday) to discuss the President’s martial law proclamation.  Then on Tuesday, he said the Senate will hold a joint session with the House of Representatives at the Batasang Pambansa building in Quezon City.


He said the President is required to report to Congress within 48 hours from the time she declared martial law. The President may personally before the legislature or submit her written report.


Senator Pimentel said if Congress finds no justification for the martial law declaration, it can overturn the President’s action and she could not veto it.


He said that while the Constitution prescribes a 60-day period for the effectivity of martial law, it can be shortened if warranted by circumstances.


Mr. Pimentel said the Senate is likely to vote against the martial law declaration if it is not convinced of the grounds cited by the Chief Executive. But he said the voting at the House may turn out to be different because it is dominated Mrs. Arroyo’s legislative allies. # # #


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Last Updated on Monday, 07 December 2009 11:15
Comments (3)
1 Monday, 07 December 2009 11:50
Press Release issued by the Philippine Consulate General of Los Angeles, California:

Malacanang says martial law in Maguindanao is necessary to quell rebellion

MANILA, -- Malacañang today defended President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao citing its necessity to quell rebellion in eight municipalities in the area who are pre-positioning to wield violence and possibly attack the government forces.

In a press conference, Press Secretary Cerge M. Remonde said that the President only did what she needs to do to provide justice for the victims of Maguindanao massacre that left 57 people dead, including women and journalists.

“The declaration of martial law in Maguindanao is not an overreaction. It was necessary to quell rebellion that was designed to protect the suspects in the horrible Maguindanao massacre. This is necessary to give justice to the victims of the massacre,” Remonde said.

He noted that martial law will be implemented for a relative time only to give way to the government authorities to apprehend the suspects and seize loose firearms in Maguindanao.

The declaration of martial law, he stressed, is also meant to secure the safety of the witnesses and uphold press freedom.

Remonde said that President Arroyo was determined to solve the massacre in Maguindanao when she personally visited the families of the victims of the horrible crime.

“However, this will not distract the President on her other duties and on what she needs to do,” he added.

According to Remonde the implementation of martial law in Maguindanao is also aimed to give justice to the victims and serve as a reminder that the government will not tolerate rebellion in any part of the country.

Also present during the press conference are Philippine National Police (PNP) General Andy Caro, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Brigadier General Gaudencio Pangilinan, and AFP Information Chief Lieutenant Colonel Romeo Brawner.

Caro explained that prior to the declaration of martial law, there were private armies massing in eight municipalities ready to rebel against the government forces.

“We will do everything necessary to bring back peace and security in Maguindanao. The implementation of martial law gave us the chance to go after the suspects who are part of the rebellion and possible suspects of massacre,” Caro added.

He noted that just this morning, the joint forces of the PNP and AFP were able to seize loose firearms in different residences of the Ampatuans including improvised armored vehicles and a truck loaded with 330 boxes of ammunitions which can provide for a thousand troops.

As of 10:40 am today, the joint forces also raided the ranch of Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. in Datu Hoffer where they were able to seize 11 M-14, 13 M-16, one carbine, one AK-47, one grenade launcher, five ultimax rifles, two M-60, one caliber 50 machine gun, one caliber 30, 3 grand riffles, nine assorted ammunitions and one barrel of M-60.

Caro explained that before the declaration of martial law, the AFP and PNP forces were likewise having a hard time securing search warrants because the judges in Cotabato went on mass leave.

When the government forces brought the problem to the Supreme Court, a judge was assigned to issue the arrest warrant but eventually did not cooperate afterwards for fear of his family’s safety.

The High Court then appointed another one but after giving a search warrant, the second judge did not cooperate the next day for the threats his family were receiving.

Other government agencies also ceased to operate after the massacre. This, he added, prompted the President to declare martial law because the government and the justice system were no longer operating in Maguindanao.

According to Pangilinan, a total of 62 suspects have been arrested including the 15 they arrested this morning.

Caro added that what the joint forces are doing in Maguindanao right now include the containment of all the provinces, going after rebel groups who are pre-positioning, and the search and seizure of loose firearms.

Gov't vows justice for massacre victims, end to political violence in Maguindanao

The government is determined to stop political violence in Maguindanao and will not rest until justice is done to the 57 massacre victims, 30 of them journalists.

At the regular forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at the Sofitel Hotel, Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo acted swiftly and decisively to prevent violence from escalating after news of the heinous crime broke out.

He said President Arroyo is fully prepared to work with Congress to enact new penalties for crimes of intimidation and violence against journalists and political activists.

“Now more than ever, we must stand up to those perpetrators who do violence to our people, to our Constitution and to our way of life,” Remonde said.

“We must strengthen the rule of the law, guarantee that justice prevails and ensure that the people have full confidence in the ability of government to protect them.”

He acknowledged that the heinous crime is a setback to the president’s fight against political killings and other forms of violence, including those committed against journalists.

To ensure transparency in the investigation of reported political killings, he pointed out, the president made the unprecedented step of establishing the Melo commission and inviting United Nation observers.

He said the government had made progress in restoring normalcy, “then came the Maguindanao massacre.”

According to Remonde the declaration of martial law in the troubled province was made to restore peace and security. He added the president regards peace and security, along with economic growth, the centerpiece of her administration.

The president is, therefore, “deeply troubled that the progress made on many fronts—the economy, healthcare, peace and security—has been jeopardized.”

But the government, he pointed out, is doing everything to unmask and punish the guilty and, thus, “begin to repair the damage wrought by the Maguindanao tragedy.”

In the same forum, DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno explained martial law is necessary in the light of threats to national security posed by armed groups loyal to Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr., a principal suspect, along with members of his clan, in the multiple murders.

Apart from those already in custody, Puno said, the government is in hot pursuit operation against the others who may have a hand in the killings.

It is also trying to persuade some 1,160 armed members of the civilian volunteer organization (CVO) to return to the fold of the law.

For her part, Justice Secretary Agnes Devandera said Ampatuan Sr. is facing two serious charges—one for complicity in the murder and the other for rebellion. She pointed out that the rights of Ampatuan, and all other accused persons, will be respected even under a regime of martial law. That is why, she said, preliminary investigation will have to be conducted to determine prima facie evidence in the murder case.

However, “the case for rebellion is to be filed today (against Ampatuan),” Devenadera said. “He is being referred to as the leader.

Gen. Jesus Versoza, PNP chief, who was in the same forum, said intelligence reports indicated there are some 2,400 men loyal to the Ampatuans seen massing in critical areas of the province.

Only last night, he said, a police special action force on patrol were fired upon by some 20 to 30 suspected CVO members. Luckily, he added, no one was hurt on the government side.

So far, authorities have unearthed some 883 assorted high-powered firearms and 430,000 rounds of ammunition from properties owned by the Ampatuan clan. They have also confiscated ten armored vehicles. # # #
2 Thursday, 10 December 2009 05:45
Gloria Arroyo is a hodlum that can not be trusted much more to the unlawfull declarationb of martial law. We have a president who can not follow the rule of law and a people who are hopeless to go against the implementation of martial law. To hell with you all.
3 Thursday, 10 December 2009 20:21
Palace denies MILF coddling Ampatuan armed supporters

Malacanang today brushed off suggestions that some commands of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are providing safe haven to the armed supporters of the Ampatuan clan.

The armed supporters, notably those implicated in the massacre of 57 people, had gone into hiding following the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao.

In a press conference this afternoon, Presidential Spokesperson and Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said there are no intelligence reports to that effect.

He said the MILF, through the Joint Action Group (JAG), composed of the government peace panel and MILF officials, agreed not to harbor criminals and terrorists in areas under its control.

Representatives of the government and the MILF are now in Kuala Lumpur discussing the resumption of the formal peace talks. The government panel is expected to report to the palace the final agreements between the two parties.

Ermita also said that Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has praised President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for “having the political will to push for the peace talks.”

According to Ermita, the joint forces of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are conducting operations to break up the armed groups.

“Their moves, their plans are being monitored by the Armed Forces,” he said.

He stressed that the AFP and the PNP have things pretty much under control, and so there is no need to expand the coverage of martial law in other provinces. He said however, that martial law will remain until threats of rebellion and lawlessness have been quelled.

He refused to comment on proposals to extend martial law until election time, except by saying that such an eventuality must meet constitutional and legal requirements.

He disclosed that Malacanang has not yet chosen the chairman and members of the Commission on Private Armies, formed to in order to dismantle the private armed groups in the country.

Posted by the Philippine Consulate General
Los Angeles, California
December 10, 2009

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