Sen. Tito Sotto: Sen. Kiko Pangilinan partly responsible for alleged 2004 election fraud
(SPOT.ph) Sen. Vicente "Tito" Sotto III said in a press conference yesterday, August 2, that he believes some of his fellow solons, including Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, allegedly helped cover up the suspected 2004 election fraud, reports ABS-CBN News. Sotto said that Pangilinan, then a member of the National Board of Canvassers, refused his request to open the dubious election returns (ER) in some provinces.
Had the ERs been opened, "We would have known if they were right or we were right. We would have known if there was fraud committed," said Sotto, adding that lawmakers on the canvassing board must be subject to a joint probe by the Commission on Elections and Department of Justice. "Everyone (who covered up the fraud) should be liable... That's why I said this investigation should continue, it should be consistent and we should finish this," he said in an Interaksyon report.
Pangilinan, meanwhile, reacted to Sotto's claim by releasing his own press statement: "What they had wanted for us to do then... was to execute or convict the accused when the matter is not for us to decide but for the (Electoral) Tribunal. They wanted legal shortcuts and I decided on the basis of the evidence available then that a wrong, if indeed true, cannot be corrected by another wrong. We decided to uphold the law based on the available evidence." He clarified that everything he did was mandated by law.
Not backing down, Pangilinan also questioned Sotto's loyalties. "It is ironic for Sen. Sotto to be talking this way now. When the evidence of cheating and irregularities in 2004 became more convincing with the 'Hello Garci' exposé, instead of condemning (former President Gloria Arroyo) and calling for her resignation he did the exact opposite, suddenly developing amnesia by joining her administration’s ticket in 2007 and embracing the administration he had earlier accused of massive cheating." Sotto rebutted these statements by telling his colleague to shut up. "Siguro mas mabuting tumahinik na lang ang lahat at hayaan na lang itong imbestigasyon, at huwag na sanang pumapel (I think it’s better for everyone to just shut up and let the investigation continue) ," he said.
Though the debate between the two is heating up, Sotto maintained in the ABS-CBN report that the issue will not affect their personal lives. "I would like to think that politics has nothing to do with family relationships," he said. Sotto’s wife, actress Helen Gamboa, is the aunt of Pangilinan’s wife, Sharon Cuneta.
The Senate word war continues in this GMA report