By Joey A. Gabieta Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:07:00 12/01/2010
A movement in Biliran province is calling for the manual count of the votes cast in the lone congressional district in the May 10 elections.
NAVAL, BILIRAN, Philippines—A movement in Biliran province is calling for the manual count of the votes cast in the lone congressional district in the May 10 elections.
The “Biliran Kawsa” (A Cause for Biliran), led by Sr. Erlinda Lanigao, said the real winner in the congressional race was denied his right to represent the people of Biliran at the House of Representatives.
Then incumbent congressman Glenn Chong, who was seeking a second term, was defeated by former governor and now congressman Rogelio Espina by more than 300 votes.
Chong, a lawyer, received 39,659 votes against Espina’s 40,010. Chong had filed an electoral protest at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.
Lanigao admitted that the movement appeared to benefit Chong but denied she was his supporter.
“I am [politically] neutral. I cannot just sit down and allow cheating to continue. Chong and Espina are just the consequence of this action,” she said in an interview on Saturday.
Lanigao said one of the “evidence” of cheating during the congressional race was that Espina was proclaimed by members of the provincial board of canvassers in the absence of returns from other municipalities.
She said prior to Espina’s proclamation, power failure took place. It was a situation that reeked of doubt, if not total anomaly, Lanigao said.
Lanigao said she would not stop the fight until they achieved the goal of determining the real choice of the people of Biliran.
“We will continue in our fight until the truth comes out. We could not just be silent on what is going on,” Lanigao said.
Lanigao, who belongs to the Sisters for Christian Community of the Naval Diocese, led in raising funds for the campaign for a manual count.
She said ordinary people, like pedicab drivers, market vendors and students, have contributed, adding that she had witnessed several touching incidents in the course of their fund raising campaign.
Among these was the act of an old woman who donated three five peso coins, the only money she had, and the effort of several students to donate their own baon, Lanigao said.
“It only shows that they believe what we are fighting for, in our cause. Those who help us are people from all walks of life,” she said.
Lanigao said the real will of the people would only be known through a manual count.
Espina earlier said the protest case was just a manifestation of how some politicians refuse to accept defeat.
The country’s first automated elections were hailed as successful despite numerous complaints of irregularities in the way the elections were held.