Intramuros, Manila – After a few hours in the recanvassing of the 2010 poll votes, Compostela Mayor-elect Joel Quiño and his councilors smelled victory in the air.
But the recanvassing was suspended by the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBOC) because of unreadable election returns of two out of 15 contested precincts.
The election returns were objected to by the camp of former mayor Ritchie Wagas.
MBOC chairperson Consuelo Diola said it will be up to the Election Returns Statistics Division to determine if a proclamation is possible tomorrow.
She said the division will extract the election results from the compact flash cards since discrepancies have been found in the ERs and Statement of Votes per Precinct (SOVP) canvassed yesterday.
“On Wednesday we will still be canvassing what is generated by the ERSD. We will go from there and compare the results with what we have read now, from the ER sent from the election officer,” Diola said.
Diola said if the electronic results and the election returns are the same, then they will proclaim Quiño and his council.
If not, then an investigation is in order.
As of yesterday afternoon, Quiño had a 2,380 lead over Wagas.
“If the results are different, the board will report to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc,” she said.
The special MBOC counted yesterday the 15 ERs of contested clustered precincts sent in sealed envelopes from Cebu.
At the start of the canvassing in the Comelec en banc session hall, Wagas’s lawyer George Garcia stood up at the podium to object to the recanvassing. His objection was noted by Diola.
When the body continued with the recanvassing, Garcia protested each of the opening of ERs.
The precincts under protest include 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 19, 21, 22, 26, 29, and 34.
For precinct 19, the printout inside the sealed envelopes bore an SVOP figure different from the ER.
The SVOP apparently showed the results of a test transmission of the PCOS machine.
Precinct 26 contained figures in the ER that were no longer readable. The ER is a printout from a thermal paper.
Figures in both the ER and SVOP are supposed to be identical.
In precinct 19, the ERs counted 361 votes for a Quiño as against 397 for Wagas. The SOVP however, showed only four votes each for both Quiño and Wagas.
For vice mayor, the ERs counted 279 for Duque Arceo of Wagas camp as against Mary Antonette Dangoy’s 465. The SOVP read only 3 for Arceo and 5 for Dangoy.
The votes for councilors also faced discrepancies with votes marked down to only 3, 4, or 5 in the SOVP.
The two remaining precincts carry 1,400 votes. Compostela has about 34 precincts.
Diola said she didn’t know the contents of the ERs from Cebu. The ERs sealed envelopes were only opened at the start of the canvassing in front of the two camps.
Despite this, Quiño remained confident of his chances.
“Compared to before when we waited so long, now my hopes are raised. It’s 90 percent over,” Quiño told reporters in a press conference after the suspension of the canvassing shortly before noon time.
Quiño said the Wagas camp only wanted to delay the re-canvassing and he asked his followers “to be more patient.”
Garcia said he wanted to question the authenticity of the re-canvassing based on the ERs and the Statement of Votes in Precinct (SVOP).
He said their camp doesn’t want to delay the proclamation.
“The problem with the present board is that we don’t have a procedure for a re-canvass. I understand the situation of the board. It’s the first time in the history of the 2010 election that the Comelec agreed to hear a pre-proclamation (protest),” he said.
For her part, Cebu Vice Gov. Agnes Magpale appealed to the Quiño and Wagas camps not to hamper the re-canvassing of election returns of Compostela town.
Magpale, who previously served as Provincial Board (PB) member of the fifth district which includes Compostela town said the two contesting camps should allow the “law to take its natural course.”
“It’s almost May and next year’s the elections and Compostela still doesn’t have its own officials,” she said. Dale G. Israel, Senior Reporter with Correspondent Carmel Loise Matus