Amid the resurrection of election cheating allegations during the Arroyo administration, Senator Chiz Escudero today filed a joint resolution asking both chambers of Congress to determine the real winner in the 2004 presidential race.
Last week, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor Zaldy Ampatuan and former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol have come forward and accused ex-president Gloria Arroyo of orchestrating the rigging of election results in 2004 and 2007.
Under Senate Resolution No. 534 (SRN 534), Escudero, chairman of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, is seeking the creation of a fact-finding commission to look into the 2004 electoral fraud.
The senator, who was the spokesperson of then presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), said the move will help bring closure to allegations of massive poll fraud that benefited Arroyo, who ran against the king of Philippine movies.
“The ghost of 2004 has continuously haunted our democratic system and electoral processes. We need to establish a fact-finding commission, define its powers and functions to enable it to make recommendations on who to recognize as the true fifteenth president of the republic,” Escudero said.
He said that unlike any other elections, the 2004 election has remained unsettled and can no longer be resolved given that the acts or omissions of electoral fraud have already become academic, if not dismissed or mooted.
Escudero said the controversies surrounding the 2004 presidential elections could have been resolved by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal were it not for the untimely demise of FPJ.
“This move is geared toward setting the record and correcting history. It is not about prosecuting or persecuting former president Arroyo; this is about uncovering the truth and to serve and give corresponding recognition to FPJ if indeed it can be given by that commission,” he said.
Escudero is proposing the creation of the fact-finding commission which will be composed of a retired justice from the Supreme Court, who will be appointed by the President and will serve as chairperson; the secretary of the Department of Justice; a commissioner of the Commission on Elections to be chosen by the head of the poll body; the Ombudsman; and a senator and a representative to be named by the Senate President and the Speaker, respectively, as ex-officio members.
The commission shall have the following powers:
1. To issue subpoena;
2. To compel the attendance of witnesses and production of evidence;
3. To cite in contempt any person who shall disobey any of its issuances, orders or resolutions;
4. To issue orders and resolutions necessary or incidental to its functions as a fact finding body;
5. To issue rules and regulations on the receipt, evaluation, admission and custody of evidence in accordance with the policy set forth in the joint resolution.#