PRRD defers to Senate, Comelec to probe alleged poll fraud

MANILA President Rodrigo R. Duterte will leave it to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Senate to probe the alleged fraud in the 2016 national elections, his spokesperson said Wednesday.

Hinahayaan na ng Presidente na mag-imbestiga muna ang Comelec at tingnan natin kung meron ngang mga election violations na naganap (The President has allowed Comelec to investigate and we'll see from there if there are indeed election violations that took place), Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a briefing in Palawan.

Sana po maimbestigahan ito ng Comelec at ang Senado naman puwede ring imbestigahan 'yan (I hope the Comelec will investigate this and the Senate can also conduct its own investigation), he added.

Roque made this statement after Senator Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday urged the Senate to conduct a probe into the country's automated election system.

In a privilege speech, Sotto said that a concerned and impeccably reliable source handed him confidential information regarding the irregularities that took place in May 2016 which allegedly altered the results of the last national elections.

If we don't do anything to clear the doubts as to the legitimacy of the previous election, then we put at risk the accuracy of the 2019 elections, Sotto said.

He also asked the Senate to subpoena the Comelec and automated election provider Smartmatic to shed light on the issue.

Roque, however, said that he would ask Duterte if he intended to ask the investigative branches of the government to conduct its own probe into the issue.

Hayaan po natin silang mag-imbestiga at titingnan din po natin kung ang Presidente ay uutsusan din ang sariling investigative branches ng gobyerno (Let's just let them investigate and we'll see if the President will order the investigative branches of the government to conduct their own probe), Roque said.

Pero ngayon po talaga, exclusive po ang jurisdiction ng law department na mag-conduct ng preliminary investigation sa mga election offenses (But at present, it is within exclusive jurisdiction of the law department of the Comelec to conduct preliminary investigation on election offenses), he added.

Roque said that although the camp of the chief executive does not doubt that the President received more than 16 million votes, there was no plan to file a protest.

However, he said that the only way to move forward was to make sure that those with election offense are held liable.

We will move forward, papanagutin ang mga gumawa ng election offenses (We will move forward, those who committed election offenses will be held liable), Roque said.

Previously, the camp of losing vice presidential candidate and former Senator Ferdinand Bongbong Marcos Jr. cried fraud in the counting of votes that led to then Camarines Sur Rep. Now Vice President Leni Robredo taking the lead and winning against Marcos.

Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman and now Presidential Political Adviser Francis Tolentino also cried fraud against former Justice Secretary and now detained Senator Leila de Lima.

Tolentino placed 13th in the senatorial race in the polls behind De Lima.

Source: Philippine News Agency

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