Comelec orders decryption of contested Taguig votes
Stymied by the refusal of Taguig City to turn over ballot boxes for a recount, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) instead ordered the decryption of the results to resolve the poll protest filed by mayoral candidate Dante Tiñga against incumbent Mayor Ma. Laarni Cayetano.
The Comelec’s First Division, led by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, issued the order before the election body attended a budget hearing in Congress on Aug. 15.
The Comelec will just use the picture image of the ballots in the recount proceedings instead of basing the count on the actual ballots, which Cayetano’s camp refused to deliver to the election body despite repeated orders.
Tiñga filed an election protest against Cayetano who was declared the winner in the 2010 Taguig mayoral race by a mere margin of 2,420 votes.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said this was what may have prompted Cayetano’s husband, Senate Minority Leader Alan Peter Cayetano, to present a report in an inappropriate setting on the Comelec’s purchase of “extravagant” furnishings for its summer cottages in Baguio City.
“I learned that a few days before the budget hearing that the First Division came out with an order to decrypt the results in Taguig because the Cayetano camp refuses to give the ballot boxes,” Brillantes said.
Brillantes added that being Tiñga’s lawyer in the past, he had inhibited himself from the election protest to ensure both camps of fair proceedings.
At the budget hearing where the Comelec was asking for an P8.4-billion budget for 2013, Cayetano reported that the poll body had purchased “luxurious” beds and furnishings worth P7 million for the Baguio cottages.
Brillantes said he took offense at the manner it was presented, saying that he had studied hard for weeks for the budget hearing, only to be put on the hot seat to answer questions on a different topic.
Earlier, he admitted that the beds were indeed luxurious but not overpriced.
The Comelec chief said he would face Cayetano on the issue during a hearing on Aug. 30. “But I’ll also discuss the Taguig case,” he said.
“In all the election protests, we were able to get all the ballot boxes except in Taguig.
I don’t know what they are hiding.”