By Raïssa Robles
Personally, after covering so many stories on election cheating, I cannot believe that non-Senator Migz Zubiri does not know that someone very high up – most probably the one sitting in the highest office then – cheated for him to win.
I’m sure he knows who he had to thank for his luck and who he should be grateful to.
Why zeroing in on the Migz Zubiri cheating case NOW is important
Perhaps the authorities may find it more worthwhile to concentrate first on the Migz Zubiri cheating case and break it wide open instead of the 2004 cheating case.
You see, the evidence trail in the Migz Zubiri case could lead all the way to then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
And unlike the 2004 electoral cheating case, this one of Migz Zubiri is still within the five-year prescription period set by law. This means, those who had a hand in it can still be prosecuted for the crime of electoral sabotage.
This not only carries up to a life term in jail. This also carries a lifetime ban on running for public office and voting during elections.
If Migz Zubiri does not turn state witness and instead gets convicted, he could go down in Philippine history as the first ever senator to be convicted of electoral sabotage, a new crime which was rushed into law for the 2007 Senate elections.
You see, despite all the cheating that has been going on in our elections even before the Philippine Republic was born, it was only in 2007 that a penalty was inserted for any politician who would be found to have cheated massively in order to win.
Before 2007, only those from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) could be found guilty of cheating.
But the following provision was inserted in Republic Act 9369 or the Poll Automation Law to finally punish our cheating politicians:
Sec. 27. Election Offenses; Electoral Sabotage. – In addition to the prohibited acts and election offenses enumerated in Sec. 261 and 262 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 881,as amended, the following shall be guilty of an election offense or a special election offense to be known as electoral sabotage:
(a) x x x
(b) Any person or member of the board of election inspectors or board of canvassers who tampers, increases or decreases the votes received by a candidates in any election or any member of the board who refuses after proper verification and hearing, to credit the correct votes or deduct such tampered votes: Provided, however, That when the tampering, increase or decrease of votes or the refusal to credit the correct votes and /or to deduct tampered to deduct tampered votes are perpetrated on large scale or in substantial numbers, the same shall be considered not as an ordinary election offense under Sec. 261 of the omnibus election code. But a special election offense to be known as electoral sabotage and the penalty to be imposed shall be life imprisonment.
The act or offense committed shall fall under the category of electoral sabotage in any of the following instances;
(1) When the tampering, increase and / or decrease of votes perpetrated or the refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes, is/are committed in the election of a national elective office which is voted upon nationwide and the tampering, increase and/ or decrease votes refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes, shall adversely affect the results of the election to the said national office to the extent that losing candidate/s is/are made to appear the winner/s;
(2) Regardless of the elective office involved, when the tampering, increase and/or decrease of votes committed or the refusal to credit the correct votes or to deduct tampered votes perpetrated , is accomplished in a single election document or in the transposition of the figure / results from one election document to another and involved in the said tampering increase and/or decrease or refusal to credit correct votes or deduct tampered votes exceed five thousand (5,000) votes, and that the same adversely affects the true results of the election ;
(3) Any and all other forms or tampering increase/s and/ or decrease/s of votes perpetuated or in cases of refusal to credit the correct votes or deduct the tampered votes, where the total votes involved exceed ten thousand (10,000) votes;
Provided finally; That any and all either persons or individuals determined to be conspiracy or in connivance with the members of the BEIs or BOCs involved, shall be meted the same penalty of life imprisonment.
It can be argued that Migz Zubiri’s insistence on including the tainted votes from Maguindanao showed he was in conspiracy with the perps.
Follow the “evidence” Zaldy Ampatuan gave
Without turning former Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARRM) Governor Zaldy Ampatuan into a state witness, he has given the public enough clues to follow.
According to a Malaya news report filed by JP Lopez on July 13, 2011:
He (Zaldy Ampatuan) added that during the canvassing of the 2007 election results, “Mr. Bong Serrano (executive assistant of then presidential spokesman Gabby Claudio), acting under orders of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, delivered to Maguindanao P30 million to P40 million and official ballots to be used in replacing ballots.”
Zaldy said he can persuade former provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol to testify on the people involved and on how the manipulations and cheating operations were carried out.
“Documentary evidence may be retrieved from Comelec national (and) other documents may be with Atty. Lintang Bedol,” he said.
“Then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo called former Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. for a meeting sometime in January or February of 2007 in Makati,” he said.
It was during this meeting that Andal Sr. received P3 million from Mike Arroyo. Also present in the meeting were former provincial administration Norie Unas. He said he was then at the Century Park Hotel in Manila.
The meeting was meant to map out how to ensure a zero vote against now President Aquino, and Senators Panfilo Lacson and Alan Peter Cayetano.
In a subsequent meeting, Zaldy said he asked his father why the Arroyos wanted to ensure that the three lawmakers get zero votes.
Zaldy said Aquino should not win as a senator because his mother had already been president, and thus Aquino had the chance of winning the presidency in the future.
“Ping (Lacson) because he talks too much against First Gentleman and GMA, and the Cayetanos because the Arroyos helped his father and Sen. Pia Cayetano but when she vied for the Senate position and their support was sought by the Arroyos, the same was not returned.”
“The votes of the three were given to Juan Miguel Zubiri who, in the final results in Maguindanao, garnered the highest number of votes.” he said.
He said that is why Zubiri has been referred to as a senator from Maguindanao.
And so, non-Senator Migz Zubiri, you have a choice of doing the right thing or going down in history as the cheatingest senator in Philippine politics.