Philippine opposition groups find Arroyo guilty of rigging votes

Opposition and left-wing groups held a mock trial Wednesday that found President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo responsible for massive corruption and electoral fraud, and demanded that she resign.

The monthslong investigation and trial had no legal value, but the proceedings organized by the Citizen's Congress for Truth and Accountability have helped keep the heat on Arroyo nearly a year after vote-rigging and corruption scandals emerged to rock her presidency.

Arroyo has denied any wrongdoing, and her allies in the House of Representatives squashed three impeachment bids last September and blocked a potentially damaging investigation on a technicality.

A month later, about 40 small opposition and leftist groups launched their own unofficial investigation.

After hearing 22 witnesses and reviewing voluminous documents in five public hearings, a 15-member fact-finding committee found that Arroyo allegedly cheated her way to the presidency by tampering election results in four vote-rich provinces, organizers told a news conference.

More than seven billion pesos (US$135 million; Ђ 106 million) in state funds were allegedly used to fund government projects allegedly designed to lure large number of votes for Arroyo in the 2004 presidential elections, the organizers said.

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., an opposition leader who headed the fact-finding committee, alleged Arroyo's camp may have stolen up to 1.2 million votes to ensure her victory.

The committee also found Arroyo liable for massive human rights violations and political persecution, citing her failure to stop abductions and killings of political activists allegedly committed by policemen and soldiers.

Arroyo has steadfastly refused to step down, reports the AP.


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