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KIDAPAWAN CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) first division has dismissed the election protest filed in 2010 by defeated Cotabato gubernatorial candidate Manny Piñol against incumbent Cotabato Governor Lala Taliño-Mendoza.
In a 14-page order dated June 7, the Comelec first division dismissed Pinol's electoral protest against Mendoza for lack of merit, saying he failed to justify the continuation of the manual recount of ballots in the remaining contested precincts. The order was signed by Comelec's first division presiding commissioner Rene Sarmiento and Commissioners Armando Velasco and Christian Robert Lim.
"In the final analysis, with the information gathered from the recount proceedings demonstrates [that] the protestant failed to establish the merit or legitimacy of his election protest from the precincts he so selected in the belief that the same would exemplify his claim. We find no more need to proceed with the recount of the rest of the protested clustered precincts," the poll body said.
Data gathered by the Comelec showed that of the 21,932 ballots in 50 initial clustered precincts that Piñol alleged as dubious and tainted, he was only able to recover 0.2 percent of 17.92 percent.
"In sum, the protestant's net gain is not enough to overtake protestee's votes," said the poll body.
Records from the Comelec said Mendoza garnered 236,966 votes compared to Piñol’s 199,332 votes in the May 2010 gubernatorial race.
Mendoza was hopeful Comelec’s decision would end “all the misinformation and tension created by the filing of such election case.”
Also, she said the result of the investigation made by the Comelec which led to the dismissal of the case proved that the automated elections “were effective because of less human interventions.”
But Mendoza’s quest for justice, she said, doesn’t end at the dismissal of the case.
She said she would get back at Piñol by filing counter charges against him.
Also, she would seek justice to those teachers and other Comelec staff in North Cotabato that Piñol accused of election fraud.
“We will help our teachers. We will provide them legal counsel. The dismissal of the case filed against him will prove Pinol and his group were wrong,” said the governor.
Piñol, for his part, said he would file a motion for reconsideration the soonest time possible. — with Kimberly Jane Tan/RSJ, GMA News