BY DENNIS GADIL
THE Senate Electoral Tribunal has found sufficient basis that Genuine Opposition candidate Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III was cheated in the 2007 senatorial elections.
In a nine-page resolution dated June 17, the SET ordered the revision on the remaining 75 percent of the contested precincts and the re-tabulation of the election documents in Patikul, Sulu.
The resolution was signed by Supreme Court Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, SET chairman, Justices Antonio Carpio and Renato Corona, and Senators Edgardo Angara, Ramon Revilla Jr., Pia Cayetano, Panfilo Lacson, Francis Escudero and Benigno Aquino III.
The tribunal said results of the initial revision on the first 25 percent precincts revealed that Pimentel "has prima facie valid cause of action."
Under SET rules, a protesting candidate must show solid evidence of fraud in at least 25 percent of the election results in the places subject of his protest.
"The results of the initial revision and appreciation proceedings already done showed that the 14 May 2007 election in certain designated pilot areas was characterized by proven irregularities," SET said.
It said that in "six of the nine pilot municipalities in Maguindanao and Lanao del Norte, for instance, 98.15 percent of the ballots (70,922) cast were found to be spurious."
The SET said that the "spurious" ballots could affect the standings for the 12th and last senatorial slot.
The Comelec proclaimed Team Unity candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri the 12th senator with a lead of 19,292 votes over Pimentel.
Pimentel questioned the results in 2,658 precincts covering 44 municipalities and seven provinces, which were mostly in Mindanao.
The SET has issued a gag order on the Pimentel and Zubiri camps.