Atienza’s camp still in hot pursuit

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.22

After the Commission on Elections (Comelec) dismissed the protest filed by losing mayoral candidate Lito Atienza of Manila, new issues were raised by his camp as to the integrity of the counting machines used in the 2010 elections. These issues form part of their argument in connection with the Comelec’s decision on the protest filed against Manila mayor Alfredo Lim.

Atienza’s lawyer cited the case in North Cotabato wherein the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines had compact flash cards that contained votes for the positions of president and senators in the October 27, 2007 elections in Colombia, the South American country. Atienza's camp said that a similar occurrence may have happened in Manila in the 2010 general elections that could have affected the outcome of the exercise.

Furthermore, they also argued that around 600 ballots in Manila were not signed by the Board of Election Tellers (BETs) as required. This is their allegation in the appeal they filed before the Comelec to reverse its decision.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr., after reading Atienza’s appeal, said that it has a slim chance to succeed as Lim has garnered a substantial lead over Atienza in the manual recount that was conducted to resolve the protest. The findings of the Comelec's Electoral Contests Adjudication Department (ECAD) First Division shows that in the 20% of the precincts that were subjected to a review, Lim led with a huge margin over Atienza.

Atienza, through his lawyer Romulo Macalintal, asked the Comelec en banc to allow them to prove all their allegations and has asked to order the ECAD First Division to review the ballots from the remaining 1,241 clustered precincts. The lawyer said that the result of the revision of the remaining ballots is material in resolving the protest.

Chairman Brillantes inhibited from the earlier Comelec ruling junking Atienza’s protest, Brillantes being a former election lawyer of Mayor Alfredo Lim.

Surigao del Norte protest

Meanwhile, a Comelec committee in charge of reviewing the protest filed by former Surigao del Norte Governor Robert “Ace” Barbers was criticized for allegedly “brushing aside” evidence that were gathered and submitted. Barbers claims that the complaints filed by his revisors were neglected by the Comelec revision committee. The complaints submitted contain the findings they gathered during the actual revision of the ballots.

In the complaint, they pointed out that the ballots showed some “patterns” and differences in the signatures of the chairman of the BET. These were evident in some 800 ballots that were recalled. In a letter by Barbers, he said that the complaints they filed merely became narrative reports after the committee has set them aside.

The camp of Barbers pointed out that the committee was formed to supervise the revision process, and it cannot perform quasi-judicial functions. The committee’s decision to set aside the complaint was improper as this is not part of their mandate. They further said that only the Comelec en banc has the mandate to decide on such matter and not the revision committee.

(Various news sources)