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COMELEC acts on election protests in Sarangani and Pangasinan

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.14

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to act on the election protest filed by a losing candidate for mayor in Maasim, Sarangani.

Mayoralty candidate Arturo Lawa filed a petition before the Comelec alleging that there was an error in the transmission of results during the May 2010 elections. In his petition filed in May 2010, Lawa stated that the “Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) erroneously counted the votes cast during the mock elections,” as the testing and sealing of the counting machines, or PCOS (precinct count optical scan) were conducted in the precinct where the machine was deployed.

Lawa, who got 5,306 votes trailed by a measly 15 votes behind proclaimed mayor Jose Zamorro with 5,321 votes. Based on the statement of votes presented by Lawa, precinct number 21 yielded only nine votes, as what was counted by the MBOC during the mock elections in the same precinct. The protestant’s camp claimed that they have the unofficial final count showing that Lawa garnered 5,440 votes as against Zamorro’s 5,381 votes, based on the copy of the election returns (ER).

The cited precinct covered four barangays with a total of 800 registered voters. Lawa’s camp further informed that 616 voters actually voted in said precinct during the May 10, 2010 polls, and Lawa got 136 votes while Zamorro received 62, as evidenced by the ERs generated by the counting machines.

The Comelec, in response to Lawa’s protest, ordered the MBOC to reconvene and resolve the error allegedly committed in the municipality’s canvassing of votes that resulted in the proclamation of incumbent mayor Jose Zamorro. However, due to issues with its membership, the MBOC was not able to comply with the order. Election Officer Teresita Lucero, who served as chair of the MBOC in the May, 2010 elections already filed for retirement from the government effective May 31, 2010, while the vice chair, municipal treasurer Moises Magallona, Jr., no longer qualifies for MBOC membership as he has changed employment status.

Comelec Region 12 said that they have already requested the En Banc to convene a special MBOC to settle the dispute and has likewise requested to delay the start of Atty. Lucero’s retirement so she can still assume her duties as MBOC chair. The Comelec en banc is yet to issue a resolution on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Comelec commenced the manual revision of the ballots that were transported from Pangasinan. Losing gubernatorial candidate Victor Aguedo Agbayani filed an election protest against incumbent Governor Amado Espino, Jr. Agbyani’s camp explained that they just want to establish if the people really elected Espino in the May 2010 elections. Espino said that Agbayani has all the right to file a protest, but added that this move could prove to be futile especially if the big margin of votes that he garnered is to be considered. Reports said that the incumbent governor has led the polls in practically all the towns in the province.

Some 199 ballot boxes were retrieved from the different municipalities and cities in all four legislative districts in Pangasinan. COMELEC Second Division informed that they already have the ballots in their custody and have started the manual revision of the ballots on June 15, 2011.

(Source: COMELEC, various news sources)
 
 
 
 
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