BAGUIO CITY – The Board of Election Supervisors (BES) for the recently concluded election of Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) federation officials dismissed the protest filed by losing candidates regarding the supposed irregularities in the conduct of the exercise because of alleged lack of legal and factual basis.
In a 6-page decision, the BES composed of City Election Officer lawyer John Paul Martin, City Secretary Brenner L. Bengwayan and City Local Government Operations Officer Evelyn B. Trinidad stated the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the election of SK federation officers were not allegedly supported by any evidence and that making a recount as prayed for by the protestants would be baseless.
Earlier, Russel D. Aliping, Jobelee V. Siagan, Eryl Jerl M. Dayote, Soulykha Ruth F. Chokyogen, Jaime W. Apola and Van Paulo C. Sanchez filed a petition with the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Baguio field office against the duly elected SKF president Levy Lloyd Orcales claiming that there were alleged irregularities in the conduct of the elections on May 29, 2018 which was held at the NEAP hall in Teachers Camp that warranted the conduct of a recount and the declaration of the proceedings as null and void.
Among the alleged committed irregularities include the control number on the ballots was handwritten in blue ink, the control number was written on the top half of the ballots while the lower portion of the ballot stab did not bear any control number, the counting of votes was done in private, no watchers or observers were allowed near the BES while they were reading the ballots, hence, there was no way to verify if the members were reading the names actually written on the ballots, there was no transparency in the counting of votes, the counting was not done in an orderly manner wherein after reading a ballot, the chairman will immediately put it inside the ballot box instead of piling it up on the table for easy verification, the committee allowed intermission numbers in the middle of the counting and the counting should be continuous and there should be no breaks; the committee did not observe proper dequorum and acted in an unethical manner; the reading of the ballots was done from resident to sergeant at arms; there was an irregularity in the violation of election committee chairman; discrepancy as to the number of ballots cast for president and several issues raised against the committee members.
However, the BES discovered that all those who filed the protest are winners in the SK federation election, except Aliping, who placed second in the position for president and it appears that all the protestants are not actually questioning the election process and the result of the election with respect to their positions because the only prayer they asked is the recounting of votes cast for the SK federation president.
According to the decision, the prayer in the protest will show that the protestants are not the proper party to sign the protest because they are not questioning the result of the election with respect to the positions where they were elected and that the only person who has the legal right to sign the protest is Aliping because he was the only one who ran for president.
When it comes to the control number of ballots as questioned in the protest, the BES stated that there were no specific rules required to be observed in the said instance, how it will be written, where it will be placed and the color of the ink to be used, thus, there were no violation committed in the matter of the control numbers of ballots.
The BES claimed that the counting of votes was not done in private and the counting was made public subject to the provisions of existing laws, rules and regulations considering that the representative of the academe was right behind the chairman of the committee while she was reading the ballots while the non-government organization representative was near the committee members in tallying the votes.
The BES asserted that the panel of observers were present and actively participated during the counting of votes and that they are considered as the official watchers not in favour of certain candidate but for all the candidates and that they observed the proceedings just like what watchers do.
Further, the placing of a ballot inside the ballot box after reading cannot be considered an irregularity because it is not required that it should first be placed on the table.
On the other hand, the alleged joking and laughing by the committee members during the counting of votes is not an alleged irregularity and it does not make the election irregular as long as the process was done in a transparent and honest manner wherein the rules were followed.
More importantly, the BES ruled that the crowd did not interfere in the counting of votes; they did not delay the counting process by causing any disturbance; the committee members and the panel of observers were present during the entire process and they did not observe any disorder in the place.
The BES stipulated that the protestants submitted two affidavits but the same proved nothing based on the assessment of the committee.