Former Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert Barbers assails Comelec over poll protest
Former Surigao del Norte Gov. Robert “Ace” Barbers on Saturday criticized a Commission on Elections (Comelec) committee tasked to review his election protest for brushing aside his complaints although the panel did not have the authority to do so.
In a letter, Barbers said the Comelec revision committee set aside the complaints of his revisors during the actual revision of ballots held from Tuesday to Thursday last week.
He said the committee had no authority to do that, saying that only the commission itself could rule on the objections.
Barbers lost the race for the governorship of Surigao del Norte in the May 2011 elections to incumbent Gov. Sol Matugas but he filed an election protest against the latter, claiming that he was cheated.
“I was informed by my revisors that they noted an unusual and material pattern-voting scheme as well as noticeable and patent differences in the signature of the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors in some of the protested clustered precincts involving more than 800 ballots,” Barbers said.
“Regrettably, the objections raised by my revisors were set aside by the revision committee on the expedience that the person who signed may have been already tired,” he said.
Barbers said his revisors’ objections “over the ballots involved with pattern-marking and differences in the signature of the chairman of the Board of Election Inspectors and to have the same photocopied for marking as exhibits” were brushed aside.
“As a consequence, the findings of my revisors were merely recorded as narrative observations in the recount reports, not as valid objections,” he said.
Based on this, Barbers said the procedures adopted by the Comelec in the revision of the ballots were “highly improper, not in accord with the very purpose of the revision and constitute a blatant disregard of our election laws and procedures.”
He noted that the revision committees were mere creations of the Comelec and not the commission itself.
“As such, they should function only as administrative technical and supervisory bodies in the entire revision process, bereft of quasijudicial powers to determine the validity and/or propriety of the claims and objections of the parties,” he said. Philip C. Tubeza
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