Leaders of Lakas-Kampi here decried the alleged moves by Rep. Arthur Pingoy Jr. of the Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC) to rig the results of today's elections by trying to claim the copy of election returns intended for the ruling party.
Pingoy, who is seeking a third term as representative of the 2nd district, denied the allegations.
Former South Cotabato Gov. Hilario de Pedro III, who is running against Pingoy in the second congressional district of South Cotabato, said the Pingoy camp supposedly presented a "fake" document bearing an authority from Lakas national leaders for him to receive all accountable forms and election documents on behalf of the administration party.
"This is the worst case of cheating dealt against me by any of my opponents in my long years of experience as a politician here in South Cotabato," said de Pedro, who rushed to the Radio Mindanao Network this afternoon along with reelectionist Mayor Fernando Miguel and other Lakas-Kampi leaders to "announce the incident to the public."
De Pedro said the supposed authority from Lakas national directorate bore the signature of its National Executive Director Ray Roquero.
But the former governor said the issuance of the alleged authority for Pingoy was not proper claiming Roquero is not the authorized person to issue such document.
He said Lakas Deputy Secretary General Migs Sallian confirmed to him that only the party's secretary general can issue a similar authority.
"This is a clear effort of the Pingoy camp to manipulate the results of the elections. What I heard was that they will use these to make a switching of the election returns before they reach the municipal and city canvassing areas," de Pedro said.
While still at the radio station, Miguel announced that Malacanang immediately disowned the supposed authority for Pingoy.
He said Roquero faxed a document to his camp reiterating his appointment as Lakas chair in South Cotabato and a previous authority issued to him to claim the election returns and certificates of canvass for the dominant parties Lakas and Kampi.
"To all our supporters and watchers, I would like to inform you that we are the only camp authorized to claim all election documents intended for Lakas," he said.
But the Pingoy camp immediately contested the mayor's claims.
Lawyer Sylvie Tandog, an aide of Pingoy, insisted in a telephone interview with the same radio station that the document issued by Lakas to Pingoy is "genuine and authentic."
She said such authority, which was sent by the Lakas national office to their camp sometime last week, was issued by the administration as part of the Lakas-Kampi-NPC coalition at the national level.
Pingoy is among the NPC congressmen who joined a coalition led by Lakas in the House of Representatives. He was among the NPC congressmen who voted against the second impeachment case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last year.
"The allegation that our document is fake is totally false and baseless. This document is properly signed by Roquero. If this is forged, they should prove it," she said.
Tandog also laughed off de Pedro’s claims that the supposed authority was part of their camp's plot to rig the results of the elections claiming Pingoy is actually leading in the ongoing counting.
"I think we should refer this matter to the Comelec and make it decide what should be done about this," she said.
But lawyer Lilian Radam, acting South Cotabato election supervisor, said they have not received any document that gives authority to Pingoy to receive the election returns and certificates of canvass on behalf of Lakas
She said their records showed that Pingoy is only authorized to claim the NPC's copy of election documents for the province's second district since he was the opposition party's chair and duly nominated candidate in the district.
"We did not receive copy of any document changing the authorized persons who will receive the election returns and certificates of canvass intended for Lakas," she said.
Radam said the copy for the election documents for the dominant party Lakas-Kampi will only be released by their office to the authorized representative of Lakas, who remains to be Mayor Miguel based on their records. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)