Lawyers of Bayan Muna and the Genuine Opposition wanted the special canvassing to be declared illegal after discovering the irregularities in the certificates of canvass. They also questioned the nature of the special board and the manner it was created.
By Tyrone Velez
SHARIFF AGUAK, Maguindanao, the Philippines — The special canvassing in Maguindanao that began Monday drew more questions over irregularities in the votes. Yet the Comelec’s special provincial board of canvassers insisted on finishing the tabulation, saying that any concerns should be raised later at the national canvassing.
Lawyers of Bayan Muna and the Genuine Opposition wanted the special canvassing to be declared illegal after discovering the irregularities in the certificates of canvass (COCs). They also questioned the nature of the special board and the manner it was created.
GO lawyers Sixto Brillantes and Leila de Lima berated Comelec lawyer Emilio Santos, head of the special board, for repeatedly denying them the right to question the municipal board of canvassers over the execution and authenticity of the COCs.
The canvassing, which started Monday at 10 a.m., only managed to canvass three of the 22 COCs from Maguindanao. The three COCs were from South Upi, Shariff Aguak, and Buluan.
In the three COCs, 19 senatorial candidates gathered zero votes including candidates Noynoy Aquino, Alan Cayetano, Panfilo Lacson, Koko Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes, Nikki Coseteng and Sonia Roco.
De Lima said questioning the “authenticity and execution” of the COCs is a critical issue. GO and Bayan Muna demanded that the results in Maguindanao’s 22 municipalities be excluded, saying these were irregular.
“What we are doing here is useless,” decried de Lima, after Santos denied her moves to question the COCs. De Lima said they traveled all the way from Manila to “have the chance here to ask the municipal board of canvassers who are ready for their availability and participation. But we are denied by the special board to question them.”
Bayan Muna lawyer and third nominee Neri Colmenares managed to seek the deferment of the partylist votes in Shariff Aguak and Buluan after his party noted that in some precincts the total votes cast was higher than the total registered voters.
Colmenares noted that in Shariff Aguak, the total partylist votes were the same as the total senatorial votes at 27,191 votes. “Shariff Aguak has 27,356 total registered voters, and almost 100 percent voted for both senatoriables and partylist,” he said. “This is highly impossible.”
Colmenares said that Bayan Muna was wary that the votes would pull up the total partylist votes and deny more seats for the partylists.
The COCs from South Upi town was not in the ballot box from the town. These were later given to the special board, hand-carried by a municipal board election official. When de Lima questioned this, the special board rebuked her.
Brillantes and de Lima also questioned the formation of the special board, which was formed by a resolution and not by the Comelec en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers.
They also wanted provincial election supervisor Lintang Bedol to be subpoenaed to answer the alleged missing documents of the Maguindanao COCs, yet this too was denied by Santos.
Both GO lawyers attested that they saw Bedol early Monday morning, “yet again he disappeared,” Brillantes said.
Team Unity lawyer George Garcia said that the special board is only “summary in nature” and that questions should no longer be included in the proceedings.
De Lima said that with these repeated denials and questionable nature of the proceedings, they might as well terminate the proceedings and do the canvassing in Manila. (Tyrone Velez/davaotoday.com)2007 Elections, Poverty