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Recount keeping Davao Sur political rivalry alive

/ 10:12 PM February 09, 2012

DIGOS CITY—The local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) here has transported to Manila the remaining 575 ballot boxes containing election returns for a recount of the results of the 2010 gubernatorial elections in Davao del Sur.

The total recount—involving at least 710 ballot boxes—was earlier ordered by the Comelec central office after a random sampling of the election returns showed discrepancies when these were examined on the basis of the election protest filed by losing gubernatorial candidate and former Davao del Sur Rep. Claude Bautista against Gov. Douglas Cagas.

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Bautista had claimed that the proclamation of Cagas was irregular because votes cast in his favor in many areas were not properly counted by precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that were used in the automated elections in 2010.

“When ballots for the protestant were fed to the PCOS, the PCOS screen showed ‘over vote’ resulting in the non-counting of several votes in favor of the protestant,” said Bautista in his election protest filed a few weeks after the 2010 elections.

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“Only ballots for the protestee were counted by the PCOS,” Bautista said.

Cagas was eventually proclaimed winner with 163,440 votes, while Bautista was credited with 159,527 votes during the 2010 elections.

On Tuesday, the Comelec provincial office loaded the ballot boxes in 19 container vans at Makar Wharf in General Santos City despite opposition from lawyers of Cagas.

Maria Febes Barlaan, Davao del Sur election supervisor, said the ballot boxes were tightly secured and were escorted by policemen.

She said the provincial Comelec office did not want to delay the recount proceedings, which was the reason that it complied with the order to ship the ballot boxes to Manila as soon as it could.

Jerome Undalok, one of Bautista’s lawyers, said the shipment of the ballot boxes to Manila will speed up the resolution of the election protest that they filed against Cagas. Eldie Aguirre and Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Comelec, Davao sur, Elections, Politics
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