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Comelec upholds win of Davao Sur gov

/ 12:04 AM November 17, 2012

GOV. DOUGLAS CAGAS

DIGOS CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) did it again.

Just like its past practice of resolving election cases a few months into the next elections, the Comelec’s first division upheld the victory of Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas in the 2010 gubernatorial contest.

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Ma. Febes Barlaan, Davao del Sur election supervisor, said she also could not understand why it took the Comelec more than two years to decide on the election case filed by former Davao del Sur representative Claude Bautista against Cagas’ proclamation.

“We are also complaining and asking why cases that needed the Comelec’s decision drag for years,” Barlaan said.

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She said local Comelec officials are also being pressured by supporters of complaining candidates.

“But we could not do anything at our level because the decision lies at the central office,” Barlaan said.

Shortly after Cagas was declared winner by the provincial board of canvassers in May 2010, Bautista, his closest rival, questioned his proclamation.

Bautista had claimed he was denied victory when the provincial board of canvassers (PBC) decided not to tally his votes, which were not counted by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Davao del Sur second district Rep. Franklin Bautista, who acts as spokesperson for the Bautista family, said that in the manual counting of these ballots, his younger brother actually won by about 9,000 votes.

But in its decision issued on Nov. 9, barely six months before the next gubernatorial race would take place, the Comelec first division, headed by Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, upheld the PBC stand not to count the ballots that the PCOS machines had not scanned.

But in deference to Bautista’s petition, the poll body agreed to conduct a recount of the validated ballots.

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In the 27-page decision on the election case, the Comelec said Cagas won by 3,368 votes over Bautista’s 160,055 votes.

The elder Bautista said they were appealing the decision before the Supreme Court and that they would be insisting on the inclusion of ballots that the PCOS machines had not counted in the aftermath of the 2010 gubernatorial race for still unknown reasons.

“Claude won by more than 9,000 votes,” he said.

Cagas said he welcomed the Comelec decision and hoped that it would put to rest one of the stickiest issues hounding his administration. Orlando B. Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Comelec, Davao del Sur, Elections, Politics
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