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Roxas files electoral protest against Vice President Binay

July 9, 2010 10:28am

(Updated 3:55 p.m.) Lawyers of former senator and defeated vice presidential bet Manuel Roxas II on Friday formally questioned the victory of Vice President Jejomar Binay in the May 10 elections.

In the 102-page electoral protest filed before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) composed of Supreme Court justices, Roxas sought a full accounting and count of, among others, the three million null votes and other votes not counted during the national canvassing.

He also asked for a thorough review of the automated elections system especially in the light of numerous technical glitches encountered before, during, and after the May 10 national polls.

Only Roxas' lawyers were present during the filing of his poll protest.

The grounds they raised in the protest were the same issues they brought before the Congress sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), Roxas’ lawyers said.

"All of these were raised during the canvassing before the NBOC. It is just unfortunate that Congress then rejected our objections and, as for these reasons, Mar Roxas has no other option but to bring these grounds now before the PET," lawyer Bienvenido Somera Jr. said in a press conference.

Binay's proclamation should be annulled and set aside because the certificates of canvass used were not duly and properly authenticated "as these failed to meet all the legal requirements for the determination of authenticity and due execution of the COCs for vice president," Roxas’ camp said.

They added the election returns did not reflect the actual votes for the vice presidential race because of the following:
  • high incidence of null votes in the COCs, which reached 2,612,207 votes
  • lowering of the canvassing threshold in at least 145 clustered precincts
  • erroneous uploading of final testing and sealing results from the clustered precincts to city/municipal/provincial consolidation and canvassing systems, Comelec central and back-up servers, and the Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) server, and
  • reported cases of fraud, anomalies, irregularities and statistical improbabilities in certain clustered precincts, particularly in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
But before a review of election documents are undertaken, the former senator wanted the PET to order a conduct of a comprehensive, system-wide forensic analysis of the automated election system, including the electoral management system and election day management platform and their hardware and software components.

The Roxas camp also said that the PET should create a technical panel composed of independent experts who will undertake and supervise the forensic analysis of the precinct count optical scan machine, source code, all encryption, decryption and conversion keys, passwords, viewing systems, readers and all necessary and incidental peripheral/collateral systems.

Roxas also wanted to check the genuineness, accuracy, and integrity of the printed and electronically-generated official ballots and election returns; back-up compact discs of the consolidating systems at the city, municipal and provincial levels; main and back-up compact flash cards of the PCOS machines containing the electronically transmitted election returns and the printed and electronically generated statement of votes by precinct, and other sources of election data.

In turn, these data should be compared with the random manual audit report and reconciliation reports.

Roxas also sought the conduct of an independent and transparent random manual audit of the votes cast for vice president and manual revision of votes in the contested and affected clustered precincts.

The failure of the Comelec and Smartmatic to comply with the legally-mandated minimum system capabilities for the AES and the supposed removal of the system’s crucial safeguards "opened the floodgates to system-wide electoral fraud," Roxas said in a statement.

Roxas' counsel, lawyer Joe Nathan Tenefrancia, said the electoral protest will not affect the victory of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III because his margin to his closest rival was more than five million.

Long and costly protest

Asked if Roxas is prepared to undergo the long and costly process, the lawyer said what is important is that the people will know what happened to almost three million null votes.

"Gusto lang talaga malaman, ang importante ay mabilang ang lahat ng boto, walang madisenfranchise na kahit na sinong Filipino," Tenefrancia said.

(We really want to know. What is important is that all votes are counted and no votes are disenfranchised.)

He expressed hope that the exchange of pleadings and motions and preliminary conference will be through by the end of the year so that forensic analysis and revision of ballots can be started next year.

On Friday, Roxas' lawyers paid the PET P100,000 in filing fees and P200,000 in deposit.

They will need to pay P500 more for each ballot box that will be brought to PET.

There are a total of 76,000 clustered precincts all over the country.

Senator Loren Legarda shelled out P7 million for her electoral protest against Vice President Noli de Castro in 2004, according to PET staff.

Mar to lose a second time?

Although the camp of Binay has yet to receive a copy of the protest, the vice president's spokesperson expressed optimism that the PET will rule in their favor.

"We recognize his right to file a protest. But if the basis of the protest are the so-called "null votes," Mar Roxas should be prepared to lose a second time," lawyer JV Bautista said.

He said there is a reason why votes are called "null votes," quoting Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo who previously said: "How can you count votes that are not there?"

Bautista likewise noted that the national outcome also reflected the results of the exit polls conducted by reputable survey companies and media entities.

"In fact, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) exit poll results had a variance of less than one percent with the actual results," he said.

"Again, Mr. Roxas is well within his right to file a protest. Unfortunately, his action tends to undermine the people's newly-restored faith in the electoral process," the lawyer said.

He added it also shows that the old adage that 'there are no losers in Philippine elections only those who were cheated' is still alive.

"Too bad, it’s the old trapo attitude that Mar Roxas is displaying," Bautista said.

In an earlier statement, Roxas maintained that the 2.6 million null votes for the vice presidential race should be manually audited by the Comelec.

The final official tally of the National Board of Canvassers showed Binay won over Roxas by only more than 700,000.

Binay received 14,645,574 votes, while Roxas got 13,918,490 votes.

2004 VP poll protest

In the 2004 elections, then Senator Loren Legarda ran for vice president under the opposition banner but lost to administration bet Noli de Castro.

She filed an electoral protest before the PET, which eventually junked the petition in January 2008.

In a 20-page resolution penned by Senior Justice Leonardo A. Quisumbing, the Supreme Court sitting as the PET said:

“The pilot-tested revision of ballots or re-tabulation of the certificates of canvass would not affect the winning margin of [De Castro] in the final canvass of the returns, in addition to the ground of abandonment or withdrawal by reason of [Legarda’s] candidacy for, election and assumption of the office Senator of the Philippines."

According to the PET, Legarda had effectively withdrawn her protest when she ran for the Senate contest in May 2007. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV
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