May 5, 2009

Press Release
February 18, 2009



“File the necessary charges or resign,” Kiko tells COMELEC


Independent Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Wednesday called for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to file the necessary charges against former Maguindanao elections supervisor Lintang Bedol, or resign for gross negligence.


“This is ridiculous. The matter of prosecuting (Lintang) Bedol is so basic yet they have missed it all these years,” Kiko said.


Bedol was sentenced to six months of imprisonment and fined P1,000 after being found guilty of indirect contempt by the COMELEC. However, authorities are still looking for his whereabouts more than a year after he was ordered arrested.


More disturbing was the fact that there have been no election-related charges filed against Bedol up until today.


“It is totally disheartening to discover that no cases in violation of the election code have been filed against him,” Kiko said. “The message being sent here is that election cheating will not be prosecuted and that it can happen again and again.”


Kiko fears that the poll body’s inability to indict Bedol may encourage cheaters to try and do it again in the next election.


“This is exactly why election fraud happens with impunity,” Kiko pointed out empathically. “The 2010 elections may end up the same way with rampant electoral fraud because the guilty parties are free to do their tricks without fear of punishment.”


Kiko then issued a strong challenge to COMELEC to police its ranks and learn to enforce its rules among its own.


“The case of Lintang Bedol is a litmus test for Chairman Melo and the COMELEC if it wants to regain the people’s trust in the COMELEC and our electoral processes,” Kiko said.


“It is saddening to note that despite the high-profile nature of the Bedol case, the COMELEC has been unable to enforce its own arrest warrant. This speaks volumes as to the seriousness of the COMELEC to stop electoral fraud.”


“If they can’t discipline and get their own personnel to account for election fraud, how will they fare with the rest of the country?” Kiko asked.

 “Chairman Melo has a lot of explaining to do and he better have good reasons for this terrible delay. It is totally unacceptable… The COMELEC should post haste file the necessary charges against Bedol or resign for failing to do their jobs,” Kiko asserted.