60 poll protest cases filed
After the balloting come the protests— that’s a given in the Philippines.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has received some 60 election protests following the May 13 midterm polls.
Among the more prominent protests was the one filed by actor Aga Muhlach against Wimpy Fuentebella who has been proclaimed representative-elect of Camarines Sur’s 4th district.
Muhlach asked the Comelec to annul Fuentebella’s proclamation and to declare a failure of elections in Camarines Sur, alleging that the election returns in several areas were not transmitted to the canvassing boards because the compact flash (CF) cards in the automated election machines had been corrupted.
Comelec Commissioner Lucenito Tagle said he expected the number of electoral protests to rise in the coming days.
“The cases will be raffled off (to either the first or second division of the commission) … but the cases keep on coming. We may even have over 100 cases,” he said in an interview.
He said most of the cases involved local positions.
“Mostly local offices like mayor, sangguniang panlalawigan (provincial board),” he said.
Asked why many losing candidates file protests despite the polls being automated, he said the problem may be the attitude of candidates.
“Maybe some candidates don’t want to accept that they lost … so we have to check if there were anomalies involving the precinct count optical scan machines,” Tagle said.
He cited the 2010 elections where most of the protests were dismissed for lack of evidence.
The Comelec will start hearing the electoral protests on June 6.
Another Comelec official earlier said they were expecting more protests this year compared to 2010, but not as many as they used to receive during the days of manual counting.
“In 2010, we had a total of 96 electoral protests, but we expect more this time,” said Betty Pizana, director of the Comelec’s electoral contests adjudication department, citing glitches in some PCOS machines.
But the chief of the Comelec’s judicial records division, Saga Mabaning, said he did not expect the number of cases to exceed those during the days of manual counting and canvassing.
“The automated election system actually helps prevent the influx of electoral protests. Many people think the manual system was easier to manipulate,” Mabaning said.
He said the filing fee for an electoral protest is P10,000 and a complainant may spend up to P500,000 on the litigation process.
“Actually, what is really expensive is the lawyers’ fees. But apparently, this doesn’t stop some candidates from pursuing cases to appease or satisfy their constituents and supporters,” he added.
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