Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia garnered 17 more votes over former Bacolod Rep. Monico Puentevella based on the initial results of the recounting of protested ballot boxes at the Commission on Elections First Division in Manila, City Legal Officer Joselito Bayatan said yesterday.
Puentevella filed an election protest before the COMELEC on May 24, 2010 seeking the annulment of the proclamation of Leonardia, and cited massive fraud and irregularities in the casting, counting and transmission of votes committed by the Board of Election Inspectors in connivance with the mayor.
He also filed a motion for recount of votes in the precincts where he lost.
Out of the 186 protested ballot boxes chosen by Puentevella only 20 percent, or 37 ballot boxes, were sent to Comelec Manila for recounting.
There are 307 ballot boxes or clustered precincts in Bacolod City.
During the May 2010 elections, Leonardia garnered 93,519 votes while Puentevella got 86,258 votes.
Bayatan, who represented Leonardia, said Puentevella was asked to choose eight ballot boxes to be recounted from the 37 and he chose ballot boxes nos. 55, 256, 142, 211, 95, 131, 05 and 76.
Initial results of the recount showed that Leonardia got 58 votes while Puentevella got 41 votes, he said. It turned out that Leonardia got an additional 17 votes out of the eight precincts selected by Puentevella, he added.
Bayatan said if Puentevella garners at least 20 percent of the votes out of the 186 protested ballot boxes in his favor, the Comelec will proceed with the recount of the remaining ballot boxes. But if Puentevella cannot get the 20 percent number of votes, the Comelec will dismiss his petition, he said.
NO COUNTER PROTEST
Bayatan said Leonardia did not file a counter protest because he believes in the sanctity of the votes and the integrity of the election.
“This has been proven by today’s event because the initial ballot boxes counted were chosen by Puentevella who alleged they contained fraudulent votes,” he said.
Leonardia said they did not file a counter protest since they want the proceedings to be finished early, “So people will know the naked truth, because we believe we won the elections.”
He recalled that, during the random manual audit, five precincts chosen at random and the results were almost the same, he said.
Even the Supreme Court, in the case of a certain Roque, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, said that the PCOS machines are reliable, he added.
Leonardia said even if he gave the 4,805 rejected ballots that were stained, crumpled, torn or had other markings, to Puentevella, he will still have more votes compared to the solon.
Bayatan said they hope the COMELEC will be able to finish the recount by tomorrow afternoon. The recounting yesterday was held for a half day only since it was the anniversary of COMELEC, he said.
Meanwhile, Bayatan said the clerk of court of the Comelec First Division asked Puentevella to leave when he appeared at the Revision Room of the Comelec Manila yesterday. He said that, based on the Election Code, a candidate is prohibited to enter the premises where his votes are being counted.
Only the lawyers of the candidates, the election officers and authorized revisors are allowed inside the Revision Room of the Comelec, he added.
Leonardia, who was not present, was represented only by his lawyers Dexter Francisco and Bayatan
Puentevella could not be reached for his comment as of press time last night.*CGS