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Puentevella vs. Leonardia recount underway

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.19

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On Monday, August 22, 2011, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) started the manual revision of ballots contested in relation to the protest filed by former Bacolod City representative Monico Puentevella against incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia. The two faced off during the 2010 elections for the mayoralty position of the city.

Initially, Puentevella moved that the ballots from all the 307 precincts in the city be recounted, but after considering the cost that he would incur, the number of precincts was reduced to just 186. And out of the 186 ballot boxes, only 37, or 20%, of which were sent to the COMELEC office in Manila for the recount. The losing mayoral candidate filed his protest on May 24, 2010, alleging fraudulent acts during the casting, counting and transmission of votes committed by the Board of Election Tellers (BET) under Leonardia’s schemes.

Reports said that Leonardia did not file any counter charges as he is confident in the way by which the election was conducted and that the result was the genuine will of the people. The result of the counting showed Puentevella garnered 86,437 votes while Leonardia got 93,850 votes, a difference of 7,413. During the counting, some 4,805 ballots were rejected by the machines as these were crumpled, torn, had unnecessary markings or stained.

A lawyer of Leonardia said that Puentevella went to see the conduct of the recount when it started but he was asked to step out of the venue. The 1st Division of the Comelec Election Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD) asked the protestant to leave as the Election Code provides that candidates are not allowed to enter the premises where votes are being counted. Only the lawyers of the candidates, election officers and revisors authorized by the commission are allowed inside the “revision room” of the Comelec.

Meanwhile, Leonardia’s camp becomes more confident as initial result of the recount shows that he is leading.  Both camps await the development of the recount.
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