Poll watchdog wants Abalos et al out

In a statement posted in their website Friday, the group said Maguindanao election officer Lindang Bedol, regional director Rey Sumalipao of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and Comelec Chair Banjamin Abalos should go.

The Comelec has declared a failure of elections in all 22 towns of Maguindanao after provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol failed to present proof the provincial board of canvassers he earlier chaired actually held a canvassing.

The announcement was made by Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos in a press conference Wednesday afternoon in Manila

Abalos reportedly told Manila-based reporters the Comelec en banc declared a failure of election in Maguindanao after the Special Board of Canvassers which was convened to recanvass the Maguindanao votes terminated the proceedings for lack of supporting documents.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, ARMM Comelec commissioner in charge, told MindaNews earlier there would be a hearing on Monday in Manila to give the parties a chance to say their piece on the matter.

GMA News.tv reported Saturday that Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez in a radio interview said that Abalos is keen on putting "Bedol under disciplinary action" and that the poll body's law department is mulling administrative cases against the latter.

Earlier, the Comelec announced they will order Bedol's arrest if he fails to appear before the National Board of Canvassers by Tuesday.

The NBC is yet to canvass votes from the provinces of Surigao del Norte, Basilan, and Maguindanao, the last two belonging to the ARMM.

Kontradaya issued the statement in response to the "needs improvement" rating the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) gave to the Comelec for its performance in the May 14 polls.

It said the PPCRV rating was an "accolade undeserved by the Commission on Elections."

"We are disappointed by how the PPCRV rates the Comelec. We expect them to join us in asserting that heads must roll because Comelec has miserably failed in ensuring honest and credible elections."

Dizon said "the grand cheaters within the Comelec may interpret the 'needs improvement' grade to refer to their cheating."

Kontra Daya gave the Comelec a failing grade for allegedly laying the groundwork for electoral fraud which includes the private printing of election forms, padded voters' list, selective implementation of laws and the last-minute appointment of Board of Election Inspectors.

The group also chided the commission for allegedly aiding and abetting fraud with its inaction on numerous blatant violations of election laws.

It pointed out that the Comelec "issued statements, policies, and resolutions that were in accordance with the interests of Malacañang."

"The presence and promotion of election officers previously linked to fraud in Mindanao also shows complicity to commit fraud on the part of the Comelec," the statement said.

Both Bedol and Sumalipao were named in the controversial "Hello Garci" tapes that recorded alleged telephone conversations between President Arroyo and then Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano while the canvassing of votes for the 2004 presidential election was still going on.

The discovery of the tapes led to a political crisis that almost toppled the Arroyo government.

Kontra Daya is a "broad-based election watchdog formed to expose the very possible repeat of wholesale election fraud in the May 2007 Philippine elections," its website said.

Former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr. and Catholic bishop Deogracias Iñiguez are among its 39 conveners.