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
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)