Samar recall: 40% of signatures checked
CATBALOGAN CITY—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is drawing closer to completing the verification of more than 70,000 signatures attached to a recall petition that seeks to oust the governor and vice governor of Samar and hold new elections in one of the country’s poorest provinces.
Election officials in the province, however, are requesting for more time to complete the process, which is aimed at removing the sister-brother tandem of Gov. Sharee Ann Tan and Vice Gov. Stephen James Tan.
Lawyer Ma. Corazon Montallana, Samar provincial elections supervisor, said the verification of signatures attached to the petition was 40 percent complete but they needed more time to complete the process for all 73,250 signatures.
Montallana said the provincial elections office originally had until Nov. 18 to finish the verification. The process, she said, has been delayed by both the Tan camp and their detractors.
The Tan siblings have been charged with incompetence and allowing their mother, former governor and now Rep. Milagros Tan, to rule the province instead. Milagros Tan had been suspended during her term for graft in connection with irregularities in the use of the impoverished province’s calamity funds.
Sharee Ann and Stephen James denied the allegations and said the recall proceedings against them were a form of political harassment.
As of Nov. 17, the local Comelec office had verified 41.71 percent or 30,822 of the 73,889 signatures attached to the recall petition.
At least 40.44 percent, or 29,625, signatures had been verified out of 73,250 signatures on the petition against the vice governor.
The Comelec had finished the verification process in four of the province’s 24 towns and two cities—Tagapulan, 620 signatures; Sto. Niño, 1,413; Matuguinao, 464; and San Jose de Buan, 590.
Montallana said she asked the Comelec en banc, through the office of Operations Director Bartolome Sino Cruz, for more time to finish the verification process.
She said that she didn’t ask for a specific number of days in her request although it would be better if the Comelec was given 10 more working days to finish verifying all the signatures.
The Tan siblings earlier claimed that some signatures in the petitions were forged, an allegation denied by the petitioners.
The petitioners said people who affixed their signatures on the recall document were willing to execute affidavits attesting to the authenticity of their signatures.