The Supreme Court has ordered the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to comment on the petition filed by retired justice and 2010 Taguig City mayoral candidate Dante Tiñga questioning the dismissal of his poll protest against incumbent Mayor Ma. Laarni “Lani” Cayetano.
The high court’s Jan. 15 resolution which was released last week gave Comelec 10 days to comment on the petition for mandamus and certiorari filed by Tiñga.
In his petition filed through lawyer Ma. Bernadette Sardillo, Tiñga faulted the Comelec’s Second Division chaired by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, who retired earlier this month, for relying on the images of the ballots from the compact flash cards of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines used in the 2010 elections.
Sardilla said that under Comelec rules, the actual ballots should be retrieved and recounted first and it is only when the ballots show signs of tampering or are in such physical condition that they cannot be recounted that resorting to the flash cards becomes an option.
The ballot boxes that are the subject of the election contest have been kept at Taguig City Hall and guarded by Cayetano followers who have defied several Comelec orders to turn them over.
In his petition, Tiñga scored the Comelec for its “utter powerlessness and lack of will to assert its constitutional authority” for its failure to collect the ballot boxes containing the protested ballots despite having issued 10 retrieval orders over a period of three years.
Noting that the failure to retrieve the ballots in Taguig is the first in the history of the Comelec, Tiñga remarked that the poll body had succumbed to the “importunings and maneuvers of the political powers aligned with the adverse party,” as indicated by the admission of a recently appointed commissioner “that the Palace is adverse to the retrieval of the ballot boxes.”