BELEAGUERED Sen. Leila de Lima has yet another headache -- a case against her at the Senate Electoral Tribunal.
De Lima was accused of electoral fraud by former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chair Francis Tolentino, who placed 13th in the senatorial race with just about 1.3 million votes behind De Lima.
The SET, composed of three Supreme Court justices and six senators, heard the case in a closed door preliminary conference yesterday.
Tolentino specifically asked the tribunal to unseat De Lima for allegedly committing poll fraud.
In an interview with reporters, Tolentino alleged that De Lima cheated in the automated polls by supposedly manipulating electronic transmission of results.
“It (cheating) was with the electronic transmission. There probably was double transmission,” he stressed.
“If you saw the results, the margin of votes between the first place to the 12th place was only about 80,000 votes. But when it came to the 13th place, the margin became so big,” Tolentino said.
Asked if he had evidence to submit to the SET to prove his allegation, the former official cited documents and witnesses gathered by his camp.
De Lima has denied Tolentino’s charges and said she did not even have the resources to fund her campaign.
But Tolentino further argued: “That’s not true because she reportedly had drug money that fueled her campaign. There should really be no narco-money involved in elections.”
Apart from unseating De Lima and being proclaimed as duly elected senator, Tolentino said he also hopes that his protest would lead to reforms in the automated polls.
“We are hoping that the counting of votes are done manually in the precincts and only the transmission of results is automated so that the people would really see that their votes are counted,” he added.
After the first hearing on the protest, the SET chaired by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio required Tolentino to submit his reply to De Lima’s comment in five days.