No Palace pressure on Pampanga recount
Posted August 12, 2009on:
No Palace pressure on recount – Comelec
By Anna Valmero
First Posted 17:49:00 08/12/2009
Filed Under: Politics, Elections
MANILA, Philippines— The Commission on Elections (Comelec) was not pressured by Malacanang to hold a recount of votes between Pampanga governor Ed Panlilio and rival Lilia Pineda, an official said Wednesday.
“We are not beholden to the administration. We are only using our plenary powers to implement the ruling from the Supreme Court,” said Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, who is presiding committee chair of the en banc Second Division handling the recount, which starts Wednesday.
Panlilio won over Pineda by only 1,147 votes in the 2007 polls. Pineda, a known ally of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, filed a petition demanding a recount.
The total number of ballot boxes up for revision is 4,683 or close to a million votes, excluding about 164 boxes from the town of Mabalacat in Pampanga that were burned previously, according to the Election Contest and Adjudication Department (ECAD).
“It was only last month that the restraining order was lifted [by the Supreme Court] for the retrieval of the ballot boxes and that is only the time we proceeded with the retrieval of all contested ballot boxes from Pampanga to Manila,” said Ferrer.
Ferrer noted that the motion of Panlilio suggesting the Comelec should only appoint one revision committee “has no legal basis” and might be a only tactic to delay the recount and revision of votes.
“If we have one revision committee only, we might finish this recount on 2013,” said Ferrer.
In revision of ballots, all ballot boxes and election returns used for the 2007 elections will be opened by 21 revision committees composed of at least one Comelec lawyer and two “revisors” from both sides of Panlilio and Pineda.
The committees will group the contested ballots and examine each to note missing ballots or if some have unusual markings and the handwriting used in casting votes and present this for a hearing with the en banc Second Division.
Ferrer noted that there will be no regular update for the vote recount except when the revision of all contested ballots were finished and the marked evidences are presented during a hearing before the en banc Second Division to prevent “trending” and speculations that the ballots were tampered to favor a specific party.
Election lawyer George Garcia, who is representing Pineda, said the appeal to do the recount was based on grounds that votes cast for “Nanay Baby,” a registered nickname for Pineda was not counted because pertinent documents were relayed to provincial Comelec officials only two days after election day.