Namfrel's copies of election returns help resolve protest cases
by Nestor Malapajo, Jr., NAMFREL volunteer
NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.18
Four years after the 2007 elections, Atty.
Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III was proclaimed on August 11, 2011, the
winner for the 12th senatorial slot in the 2007 elections. The
Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) decision was hastened with the
resignation of Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri. Sen. Pimentel will serve
Zubiri's unfinished term of one year and two months.
Based on the SET’s recount, Pimentel got 10,898,786 votes in the
2007 elections while Zubiri got 10,640,620, or
a difference of 258,166. The SET figures were reached after the
revision and appreciation of ballots and election
returns from Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan and Maguindanao. In
Namfrel’s Operation Vote Count final tally
in 2007, with coverage of 88.5% or 198,898 over 224,748 tabulated
election returns, Sen. Pimentel was in 12th
place with 9,173,819 votes, compared with Zubiri’s 8,949,451 or a
difference of 224,368 votes.
When then-candidate Pimentel was preparing his protest case before
the SET, he asked Namfrel, through a
formal request, for copies of election returns in the provinces of
Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sultan
Kudarat, Sulu, and Maguindanao. Except for Maguindanao, where
Namfrel publicly announced during the Vote
Count that it had not received a single election return, the rest of
the ERs were provided to Mr. Pimentel. In one
hearing of the SET, Namfrel Maguindanao chairperson Fr. Eduardo
Tanodtanod, OMI, even testified to Namfrel’s
zero ERs in the province.
Sen. Pimentel said that his protest case can be used as reference
for electoral protest cases in the future. In one
forum, he revealed that the ERs he presented and those of the
Comelec manifested errors that one cannot
imagine, which led to so-called “dagdag-bawas.”
The case of Sen. Pimentel was not the first instance wherein
Namfrel’s 6th copy of the election returns were
subpoenaed. Here are some of them:
MAY 14, 2007 ELECTIONS
SHARIFF KABUNSUAN GUBERNATORIAL CASE: DATU TUCAO MASTURA VS DATU
On February 1, 2008, the Comelec issued a resolution (SPC No. 07-267
and SPC NO. 07-268) ordering the
Municipal Board of Canvassers of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Shariff
Kabunsuan to immediately re-convene after due
notice and re-tabulate all the election returns in the said
municipality using Namfrel's copy. The MBOC, on
February 19, 2008 re-convened and re-tabulated the 203 Namfrel
copies of election returns.
The en banc ruled upon the report of the Provincial Board of
Canvassers (PBOC) that the several manifest
errors were found in the Comelec copies of the statement of votes
and election returns, hence, the Namfrel
copies were used during the re-tabulation and preparation of
certificate of canvass.
MARTINEZ VS SALIMBANGON: 3RD DIST., CEBU
On 7 and 9 July 2007, Father Mar Balili of Namfrel-Cebu Chapter was
ordered to appear before the Comelec
pursuant to the directives of Atty. Eddie G. Aba, Chairman of the
Special Board of Canvassers for Bogo, Cebu.
Fr. Balili was requested to bring with him Namfrel-CCIMPEL’s copies
of the ERs, needed by the Board to
determine the true winner between Benhur Salimbangon and Celestino
Martinez III, candidates for the position
of 3rd district representative of Bogo, Cebu. Namfrel-CCIMPEL’s
copies were used by the Board in canvassing
the votes in view of the alleged submission of tampered and
falsified election returns.
Thereafter, the Board compared Namfrel- CCIMPEL’s copy of the
election returns with the Comelec’s copy and
yielded the same results whereby Benhur Salimbangon won by a margin
of 104 votes over Celestino Martinez
III. On the basis of the said returns, Benhur Salimbangon was
proclaimed accordingly by the Board of
Canvassers as the winning candidate for the said position.
With help from Namfrel's copies of the ERs, these election protest
cases were resolved.