By BiliranIsland.com Staff
First Posted 13:05:00 04/03/2011
Naval, Biliran (3 April) – Exactly 24 days from now, thousands of Biliranons who joined the indignation rallies held here in protest of the alleged electoral fraud that occurred during the May 10, 2010 elections for the congressional post of the Lone District of Biliran, have something to rejoice with as the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has finally authorized the conduct of a revision or recount on April 27.
In HRET Resolution No. 11-161, the tribunal authorized the conduct of the revision of ballots of HRET Case No. 10-020, entitled Glenn A. Chong vs Rogelio Espina, beginning on April 27, 2011, involving forty-two (42) pilot-protested clustered precincts, as reflected in the excerpt of the minutes of Meeting No. 21 of HRET, held on March 10, 2011 at its Conference Room located on Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.
The HRET meeting was attended by Supreme Court Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, HRET chairperson, and HRET members, namely Rep. Franklin P. Bautista, Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez, Rep. Joselito Andrew R. Mendoza, Rep, Justin Marc SB. Chipeco and Rep. Ma. Theresa B. Bonoan-David. On leave as HRET members were Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Eduardo B. Nachura and Arturo D. Brion, with Rep. Rodolfo B. Albano, Jr. on official mission.
Under Rule 37 of the 2011 Rules of HRET, it specifies that the revision of the ballots or the examination, verification of re-tabulation of election returns and/or reception of evidence on twenty-five percent (25%) of the total number of precincts involved in the protest, which said party deems as best exemplifying or demonstrating the electoral irregularities or fraud pleaded by him (protestant), shall begin.
The 42 piloted precincts only comprise 25% of the 166 total clustered precincts in the province of Biliran during the May 10, 2010 national and local elections.
According to Atty. Glenn A. Chong in a mobile phone interview, the revision or recount will only take two days since HRET has designated 40 revisors, instead of the original 20 revisors, for the purpose of fast-tracking the revision process of more than 50 electoral protests lodged with the HRET.
Chong revealed that what he considered as an advantage on his electoral protest was the non-submission of a counter protest from his opponent, which will further hasten the process of determining the revision or recount process.
The young lawyer also informed that Comelec Resolution No. 9164, promulgated on March 16, 2011 re: In the Matter of Reinstating and Reimplementing Comelec Resolution No. 8804 with Amendments, clearly states specifically in Section 6, Rule 15 that the recount of the votes on the ballots shall be done manually and visually.
Comelec Resolution No. 9164, duly signed by Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr., Chairman and members Rene V. Sarmiento, Lucenito N. Tagle, Armando C. Velasco and Elias R. Yusuph, which specifically cited as part of its amendments the Rules of Recount Proceedings, was furnished to all parties of election protest cases pending before Comelec and their respective counsels, the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), HRET and the regular courts.
He further said that this provision in Sec. 6, Rule 15 of Comelec Res. 9164 is applicable in his case which now superseded the use of PCOS in the recount as provided in an earlier Comelec resolution.
Atty Chong mentioned also that there was already a schedule set by Comelec for the recount of the election protest of his father, Charles P. Chong, against Gerardo S. Espina, Jr., filed under Election Protest Case No. 2010-22 in the gubernatorial post in the province of Biliran.
He said that it will take between ten (10) days to two weeks before the winner will be determined in the recount of his father, considering that there are only three (3) revisors who will do the task of revision.
He also divulged that there were close to 1,000 rejected ballots and 3,019 null votes in his case, and 7, 065 null votes in the case of his father, based on the scrutiny, examination and analysis conducted by their camp on the results of the election returns which, when included in the revision or recount, would erase the lead of Roger Espina of only 361 votes over him and would also in effect change the picture of the lead of Gerardo Espina, Jr. of more than a thousand over his father.
Atty. Chong urged the people in Biliran province including his supporters outside the province and abroad who gave their unwavering support to pray hard for the early resolution of his election protest including that of his father.
Meanwhile, Biliran Gov. Gerardo J. Espina, Jr. said in a separate mobile interview that he was in favor of manual recount, as it would be an advantage on his part since the ballots were already damaged or destroyed due to its long storage in the ballot boxes.
He also said that he did not block the election protests of the Chong camp and added that they should not give false hope to Biliranons and will just wait since it is only two years and it will be election time again in 2013.
Governor Espina also promised to continue serving the Biliranons through the implementation of several programs, one of which was the distribution of food packs to indigent residents of the province despite criticisms hurled against him.
For his part, Rep. Rogelio J. Espina said in his previous public pronouncements at DYRN through “Sibya sa Probinsya” that he won the election fair and square, since he was legally declared by Comelec as the winner in the May 10, 2010 elections.
Congressman Espina added that he will continue dispensing his duties and obligations as the elected representative of the Lone District of Biliran, despite the pending electoral protest filed by his opponent with the HRET.
The Espina patriarch, now Kawayan Mayor Gerardo S. Espina, Sr., made a pronouncement several times in his radio program, ”Pag-Usapan Natin” over DYRN, that there will be no recount that will happen or take place.