Leyte Samar Daily Express
The election protest of Atty. Glenn Chong in the May 2010 congressional contest in the lone district of Biliran province may be in full swing in the next few weeks. He “lost” to now Representative Rogelio Espina in that election.
Three big passenger truck loads (Eagle Star) of ballot boxes have been collected and were brought to Manila for a possible manual counting per order from the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) and the Commission on Elections. The HRET, after some three months deliberation on Chong’s protest has ruled to have found that former Congressman Chong’s protest is sufficient in form and substance, and therefore deserved and qualified to be heard.
Glenn Chong, a bachelor, and a relatively young lawyer and former congressman was emboldened to pursue his electoral protest driven by persistent quests of Biliran voters, especially his followers for him to seek the TRUTH about the May 2010 elections, based on their very strong suspicions and beliefs that alleged cheating happened.
Dr. Rogelio Espina, the proclaimed winner now serving in Congress who vehemently posed objections to the opening the ballot boxes for manual counting, failed to convince the electoral tribunal in giving in to his demand to include the dismissal of Chong’s protest.
The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) whose partners include National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Computer Professionals Union (CPU) Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPC) have conducted a case study, Biliran Province; PROBING INTO A POSSIBLE AUTOMATED CHEATING.
Their findings may have contributed to the motivations of Atty. Glenn Chong to pursue his protest. The study discusses in detail how alleged cheating was possibly employed to frustrate the true will of the people in Biliran.
Data collected by CenPEG came from copies of election returns, audit logo and other documents. CenPEG also “gathered pertinent information and drew insights from interviews with the local Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), poll watchers, board of election inspectors, a SMARTMATIC technician, local politicians, a regional COMELEC officer and voters”.
It is unfortunate however that no data nor opinions relative to the issue could be gathered from the camp of the Espinas because according to the CenPEG report, Congressman Rogelio Espina could not entertain them for the interview sought since he was busy in the deliberations on the national budget being discussed in the House of Representatives at the time. The mayor’s office in Kawayan did not respond to their letters for interviews. Gerry Espina Sr. the father of the Congressman is the mayor of this municipality.
At the moment Biliranons are watching and will be waiting for developments. They wanted to seek credible answers to a question they aired during the protest rallies: “Hain man ang among botos?”
This protest will bring to fore the reliability and credibility of automated voting in future elections. Whatever will be the verdict in this electoral protest, there should surface crying needs from all sectors who abhor electoral cheatings to review and evaluate automated elections not only in Biliran but nationwide if only to correct even basic flaws that allegedly happen in automated elections.
Other observers say that the Espinas will surely spring up surprises for their defense and could or might employ tactics to unnecessarily delay quick resolution of the protest. They could be proven wrong!
This political development in Biliran province is worth watching not only for Biliranons but for everyone in the region, or even political observers in the whole archipelago who dream of credible automated elections to be in place in future electoral exercises in the land.
By: Alvin Gz. Arpon