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Defeated bets contest proclamation of senators in May 2013 polls


A group of defeated senatorial candidates on Monday asked the Supreme Court to nullify the proclamation of the 12 senators who won in the 2013 midterm elections because of alleged inaccuracy in election returns and defects in the counting machines used.

In a 25-page petition, the group accused the Commission on Elections of grave abuse of discretion when it proclaimed the winning senators in the May 2013 polls "despite the questionable accuracy of the election returns that were sought to be canvassed."

The group of petitioners included Ricardo Penson, Hans Christian Seneres, Rhizalito David and Baldomero Falcone.

"It is respectfully prayed that the National Board of Canvassers resolution no. 004-13 dated May 18, 2013 and the Senatorial Canvass Report No. 17, and other NBOC resolutions on various dates proclaiming as duly elected certain candidates for senators in the May 13, 2013 national and local elections be declared null and void," said the petitioners.

The petitioners insisted that the Comelec pushed through with the proclamation despite having knowledge that there were differences between the automated and manual count, even as the random manual audit was also not yet completed.

The group quoted National Statistics Office statistician Florante Varona as telling in a Senate inquiry that the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines failed to comply with the percentage accuracy required under the law or the contract.

The group also said it was "premature" for the Comelec to have proclaimed winners because there was "no showing of the number of remaining votes yet to be canvassed in relation to the total votes cast for the said election."

This was despite Comelec's justification that the proclamation was made even if the canvassing has not yet been completed "considering that the remaining votes that have not yet been canvassed would not materially affect the results."

The petitioners said Comelec also failed to include in its proclamation ruling and subsequent senatorial canvass report an "indication of compliance" to the authentication requirement for electronically transmitted election results of the May 2013 polls.

"That the electronic transmissions were not even digitally signed is a conclusion that may be drawn from the failure of the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) to include in its final December 10, 2013 report that there were in fact digital signatures despite the commitment of its chairman to do so," the petitioners said.

The petitioners also pointed out that the Comelec ignored findings made by the TEC that extraneous lines found on ballot images caused an "overvote" resulting in an "automated dagdag-bawas."

The petitioners noted Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes' own admission during a Senate committee hearing on the May 2013 polls where he reportedly said: "Pati siguro iyong mga senador, tignan natin. Baka nga ho nagkaroon kami ng accidental proclamation."

The 12 senators proclaimed in the May 2013 polls were: Juan Edgardo Angara, Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda, Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Gregorio Honasan, and Cynthia Villar. — KBK, GMA News