TU: Mindanao may win it for Zubiri, Recto

Jun. 04, 2007

The administrations Team Unity (TU) is pinning its hopes on less than two million votes from six provinces in Mindanao that have yet to be canvassed to push Miguel Zubiri and Ralph Recto into the Magic 12.

The provinces are Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Surigao del Norte.

We are praying and hoping that Recto and Zubiri can get enough votes there so they can make it [to the Top 12], TU lawyer Romulo Macalintal said.

Before the Commission on Elections sitting as the National Board of Canvassers went on a weekend break in the absence of certificates of canvass to tabulate, Zubiri was in 13th place and Recto in 14th.

As of Saturdays tally, Zubiri needed more than 191,395 votes to topple Aquilino Koko Pimentel III of the Genuine Opposition (GO) from No. 12.

Recto must get more than 399,489 votes to ease Pimentel out of the Magic 12.

Antonio Trillanes IV (GO), who clung to the 11th spot, was 461,843 and 669,937 votes ahead of Zubiri and Recto, respectively.

Zubiri and Recto have a chance of making it into the winning circle because Mindanao is a TU bailiwick, according to Macalintal.

We hope they can make it because there are still two million votes out there. But I cannot just make any prediction as to the outcome of the voting [in the provinces]. Perhaps tomorrow (Monday) we will know, he said.

The NBC has yet to tabulate certificates of canvass (CoCs) from five Mindanao provinces, which have a total of 1.19 million registered voters.

Still to be tabulated are the CoCs from Basilan (181,447 registered voters), Lanao del Sur (396,800), Lanao del Norte (483,907), Sultan Kudarat (355,496) and Surigao del Norte (261,735). Canvassing will resume at 2 p.m. Monday.

The canvassing of the CoC from Maguindanao, which was submitted to the NBC on May 22, has been deferred after the board ruled that it was statistically improbable for 19 senatorial candidates to get zero votes in the province.

The Maguindanao CoC accounted for 337,108 registered voters, bringing the total number of registered voters in the six provinces to 2.016 million.

If 75 percent (average turnout nationwide) of the registered voters in these provinces actually cast their votes, only 1.54 million votes have yet to be tabulated.

As the canvassing of votes winds down, the Arroyo administration said it had every right to defend the votes of Zubiri and Recto, who had the best chances of entering the Magic 12.

Based on election returns and field reports, the TU candidates had a strong chance to be part of the winning circle, said Gabriel Claudio, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos political adviser.

Claudio also cited the results of the exit poll conducted by Pulse Asia that showed that Zubiri and Recto were in the winning circle.

The Pulse Asia survey, Claudio noted, predicted that four TU candidates would make it into the Magic 12 — Zubiri (8th to 12th place), Recto (9th to 12th), Joker Arroyo (8th to 11th) and Edgardo Angara (6th to 7th).

What right has the opposition to say that any number above two for the administration is a result of vote manipulation or fraud? Claudio said as he scoffed at the oppositions assertion that it was protecting the votes of the last three opposition candidates in the Magic 12.

If theyre protecting the vote of their last three candidates, it becomes even more urgent for us to defend the votes of our candidates that rightfully belong to the winning circle based on actual and natural election results, he said in a phone interview.

But he said that any effort made by the administration to win more seats would only be done by protecting the natural votes for the administration and not through manipulation of the votes or through cheating.

The true and natural will of the electorate will be reflected in the final vote or canvassing and were hoping that we will have more seats, Claudio said.

While Ms Arroyo has conceded the senatorial race to the opposition, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita is leaving it to TU candidates the decision to admit defeat.

The President has recognized the GOs domination of the rankings in the winning circle. Politics will not undo our economic progress, she said. (PIA Dispatch)

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