Philippine lawmakers to hold inquiry on poll fraud allegations

Philippine lawmakers said on Tuesday they will hold an inquiry into allegations of fraud during last week's national elections.

Philippine lawmakers to hold inquiry on poll fraud allegations

Philippine lawmakers said on Tuesday they will hold an inquiry into allegations of fraud during last week's national elections, but the move is unlikely to change the results for the country's top two posts.

The elections body said last week it had discovered discrepancies involving around 150,000 votes but the number was not enough to affect the overall outcome of the presidential and vice presidential elections.

The House of Representatives' panel on suffrage and electoral reforms will start public hearings on Wednesday to assess the credibility of the automated vote count, the country's first, and evaluate evidence and claims of vote irregularities.

Prospero Nograles, outgoing speaker of the 264-member House of Representatives who lost a bid to become mayor of Davao City in the south, said the automation was not fool-proof, with several reports of pre-programming of tallies in memory cards used for the vote counting machines.

"What is even more disturbing is the recall of 76,000 memory cards just four days before the elections when there is no longer time to examine them," Nograles told reporters.

Senator Benigno Aquino is expected to be officially proclaimed as winner of the presidential race in coming weeks as he maintains a commanding lead of more than 5 million votes over his nearest rival, former president Joseph Estrada, in unofficial tallies by election watchdog PPCRV.

The unofficial PPCRV tally as of Tuesday show Aquino cornering nearly 42 percent of the vote, topping the record set by Estrada who won with 40 percent in 1998.

Three other losing presidential candidates have called for an audit of poll results. They claim about 8 million Filipinos failed to cast their ballots due to technical glitches and long queues on election day, and claimed high turnout of 95 to 100 percent in some precincts in the capital and southern Mindanao island indicated possible padding of results.

Reuters

Last Mod: 19 Mayıs 2010, 08:31
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