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UPDATE Pampanga gov seeks to stop recount

Posted on: September 3, 2009

Pampanga gov seeks to stop recount

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:38:00 09/02/2009

Filed Under: Politics, Eleksyon 2007

MANILA, Philippines— (UPDATE) Governor Ed Panlilio has asked the Commission on Elections to stop the recount of gubernatorial votes in Pampanga.

Panlilio said he no longer has the funds to pay the committee doing the retabulation of ballots in the 2007 elections whose results have been placed under protest by rival Lilia Pineda, the wife of alleged gambling lord, Bong Pineda.

Panlilio said he has been spending P20,000 a day since the recount started three weeks ago.

In his five-page motion and manifestation filed before Comelec’s Electoral Contest and Adjudication Department (Ecad), Panlilio sought to suspend the recount and revision for three weeks to give him time to gather donations for his revisors.

“The ongoing revision of ballots imposes a heavy financial burden (on my part) considering we pay P550 to each of our 21 revisors and P2,000 for a supervising revisor per day. Since the start of the revision, we have drained the P505,000 donated on my part for the revision.”

“Unlike Lilia Pineda, I have no source of funds to finance the allowances for my revisors so I am appealing for a three-week suspension so I can gather donations, after which the revision can start again,” Panlilio told reporters on Wednesday.

Panlilio’s legal counsel Ernesto Francisco said the Pampanga governor has no financial stocks and only has a 1999 model of Toyota Revo as asset, apart from his monthly salary of P32,000 as public official, compared with the financial machinery of Pineda, who deposited P4 million with the Comelec to fund the recount.

In case the Comelec junks his petition, Panlilio said that he will cease assigning revisors to the ongoing revision on September 7, with the option to return with few revisors if he can raise extra funds to compensate them.

In a separate interview, Comelec commissioner and second division presiding officer Nicodemo Ferrer said they “cannot afford to stop the recount” and recording of objection to the ballots protested.

September 15 was the target for the completion of the recount.

“I will consult with the members of the second division, Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph, to study the motion and come up with resolution immediately. Offhand, I believe we can’t suspend this because we are given 45 days to finish the revision and come up with a decision,” said Ferrer.

The 21 revision committees, composed of Comelec election lawyers and a revisor each from both Panlilio and Pineda, have finished 2,500 of the 4,839 protested ballot boxes, said Ferrer.

Results of the recount and revision will be out after the Comelec issues a decision to avoid trending of results but Francisco said Pineda’s counsel George Irwin Garcia already made statements to the media last month that Pineda is leading in the recount, a violation of Comelec’s ruling.

“This is like preconditioning the minds of the Filipinos that Pineda won over Panlilio when in fact the results of the recount and revision will only be out after a decision has been made. As far as things are going, this revision process is one-sided and favoring only those with money to spend,” said Francisco.

Asked if Pineda’s camp will be reprimanded for the statement, Ferrer said there is no need to issue a gag order since the statement made did not cite any figures from the Comelec to result in trending and added a hearing will follow to take up the sides of both parties.

“Pineda’s statement falls under freedom of expression. And we will judge this case based on the reports and evidence submitted not on media statements. After the revision of the ballots where the objections for spurious marks will be recorded, both can state their
comments on the hearing where they will be required to present evidences for their allegations,” said Ferrer.

Panlilio won by a slim margin of 1,147 votes over Pineda in 2007. Pineda later filed a petition stating that votes carrying her nickname “Nanay Baby” were “mis-appreciated” during the counting, causing her loss.

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