Erap, Guia victories questioned at Comelec | Inquirer News

Erap, Guia victories questioned at Comelec

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and his partner, San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez, both found their recent poll victories being questioned in the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday.

Former Mayor Alfredo Lim formally asked the Comelec to disqualify Estrada for “very gross and apparent” vote-buying and to annul his proclamation because “the City Board of Canvassers (CBOC) conducted its canvass of votes illegally.”


Speaking to reporters outside Manila Cathedral, where he prayed briefly before proceeding to the Comelec main office in Intramuros, the Liberal Party candidate cited City Hall’s distribution of over 7,000 tablet computers to public school teachers in April. He also recalled that the city council approved a resolution in March granting a P350 “food subsidy” each to 150,000 senior citizens in the city, for a total of P52.5 million.


For Lim, these acts were in violation of Election Code provisions prohibiting candidates from giving out gifts or cash during the campaign.

He also complained about the CBOC—composed of city election officer Anthonette Aceret, city prosecutor Edward Togonon and city schools superintendent Wilfredo Cabral—for allowing the manual uploading of data from SD (secure digital) cards transported by several boards of election inspectors (BEIs) from their polling precincts to the canvassing site, the Rizal Memorial Stadium.

Around 500 vote counting machines (VCMs)—or 30 percent of the units used in Manila—failed to transmit the results electronically, prompting the BEIs to bring the machines to the stadium.

The results from 34 SD cards—which accounted for around 18,000 votes—were taken from polling precincts in Tondo, Sampaloc, Sta. Ana, Sta. Cruz and Pandacan and were the last to be uploaded. They arrived at the stadium between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. on May 10.

Throughout the canvassing which lasted about 17 hours, the Comelec tally showed Estrada leading consistently by about 2,000 to 3,000 votes over Lim. In the final count, the reelectionist Estrada got 283,149 votes compared to Lim’s 280,464, for a difference of 2,685 votes.

FRED Lim and Francis Zamora (lower photos) have filed election protests against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.

FRED Lim and Francis Zamora have filed election protests against Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and San Juan Mayor Guia Gomez.

 ‘Weak signal just an excuse’


In an interview, Lim’s legal counsel Renato de la Cruz said the CBOC should not have allowed the manual uploading while electronic transmission was also taking place. His client would be seeking a recount of the election returns “because the ERs are very reliable (pieces of) evidence since they were printed at the precinct level, before transmission to the CBOC,” he said.

De la Cruz also wondered why the CBOC, who blamed the “weak” signal for the slow electronic transmission, did not ask the Comelec for equipment that would boost the connection.

In the petition, Lim alleged that the weak signal was a “convenient excuse to give enough time for some unscrupulous members of the BEI, who were recipients of Estrada’s tablets, to manipulate, alter or modify data in the SD cards before surrendering them” to the CBOC.

On Wednesday, San Juan Vice Mayor Francis Zamora also went to the Comelec to file a protest against the reelected Gomez, who defeated him by a mere 1,224 votes.

Zamora claimed to have evidence that the mayor’s camp went on a vote-buying spree hours before the elections. Last week, Zamora and his father, Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, who won over former Councilor Jana Ejercito, showed photos of a pack of porridge with a wrapped P1,000 bill also in the dish. The packs were allegedly distributed by Gomez’s camp to residents in Barangay Onse around 1 a.m. of May 9.

In a program held in San Juan before going to the Comelec, the vice mayor said he had “sworn affidavits, testimonies, photos and videos” to support his protest.

His aides also played a recorded phone conversation purportedly between a Zamora and a Gomez supporter, with the latter offering P2,500 to convince the Zamora supporter not to vote in the mayoral elections.

Zamora also disclosed plans to discuss his complaint with presumptive President-elect Rodrigo Duterte. “As the country’s newest president, we hope he could fight for us who were robbed of our votes and voices. I appeal that he pay attention to what is happening in San Juan.”

Reached for comment, Gomez, a former actress whose relationship with Estrada produced a son, Sen. JV Ejercito, maintained that vote buying and cheating had “never been my style” in her more than four decades of campaigning for the Ejercito-Estrada clan.

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She said she respected Zamora’s decision to file a protest, but warned that her camp would also take the same action against the vice mayor. Sen. Ejercito earlier alleged that the Zamora camp had told residents not to vote in exchange for “P20,000” per family.

TAGS: Alfredo Lim, Comelec, Guia Gomez, Metro, News, Poll protests

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