BAGUIO CITY – One of the aspirants for a seat in the city council petitioned the Commission on Election (Comelec) to manually count and canvass the votes of the candidates that were included in the more than eight thousand ballots that were rejected by the vote counting machines in the various precincts in the city during the May 9, 2022 synchronized national and local elections.
In a 20-page verified election protest, Emelyn Alcaraz-Ortega, who landed 13th place among the aspirants for the 12 seats in the city council, prayed that upon filing of the said protest, an order be issued directing the election officer and the city treasurer to take precautionary measures for safekeeping and custody of the ballot boxes and its contents, election returns, copy of the book of voters, list of voters and other election documents and paraphernalia used in the previous elections in the contested precincts in the city to ensure that the said election documents will not be tampered with and to protect their integrity and directing that the ballot boxes containing the ballots and its keys and other election documents in the protested precincts be brought to the Commission for revision and recount of the ballots.
Further, the poll body was asked to issue an order directing the revision and recount of the ballots in the protested precincts.
Ortega also prayed that an order be issued directing the manual count of the votes reflected in all the 8,156 rejected ballots and all the votes of the protestant reflected in the rejected ballots be added to her total number of votes.
The protestant stated that after due proceedings, an order be issued crediting to her the votes cast in her favor that were deliberately and erroneously mis-appreciated and not counted due to their inclusion in the rejected ballots which the VCMs rejected and not counted in her favor and the same to be added to her total number of votes; deducting the alleged illegal and invalid votes of the protestee, Leah Farinas, during the revision of ballots from the votes credited to her in the election returns and annulling and setting aside the proclamation of Farinas as the 12 city councilor of the city and declaring Ortega as one of the duly elected and rightful councilor.
In the recently concluded elections, Ortega obtained a total of 54,223 votes while Farinas obtained a total of 58,145 votes, the latter gaining the 12th highest number of votes for city councilor.
Ortega is preliminarily contesting the results in 10 barangays for a total of 46 out of the 273 clustered precincts which include barangays Asin, Bakakeng Central, Camp 8, City Camp Central, City Camp Proper, DPS Compound, Engineers Hill, Irisan, Marcoville and Pacdal.
However, she reserves the right to add additional precincts as she is still in the process of convincing more persons to come forward and testify as to the anomalies and fraudulent activities they witnessed which directly and indirectly and unjustly influenced the voting results.
Ortega alleged that the certificates of canvass, election returns and statement of votes per precinct do not specifically reflect the clustered precincts where the VCMs rejected the ballots and that one of her primary concern is the counting and revision of the rejected ballots that in effect disenfranchise 8,156 registered voters who painstakingly took the time to go to the polling place and cast their votes.
According to her, the 8,156 votes is too material as the vote difference between her and Farinas which the Comelec should not likely disregard as the number of rejected ballots is very telling as to how a significant number of registered voters were disenfranchised and denied their right to vote.
Ortega claimed that there had also been alleged irregularities at Rizal elementary School, a polling precinct covering barangays Gibraltar, Lualhati, Mines View Park, Outlook Drive, Pacdal, Pucsusan and St. Joseph Village, involving unjust disenfranchisement of voters and the presence of reported flying voters from Pangasinan.
Moreover, there had also been numerous reports that the names of voters in the said school had been missing in the voters list although they had voted for the past 2 elections.
She disclosed that there were also a number of voters who were denied their right to vote since they did not bring a valid identification card which is not among the requirements for a registered voter not otherwise disqualified to vote.
She narrated that during the campaign period, there had been reports of vote buying in barangay Asin where cash were discretely enclosed inside T-shirts and subsequently distributed among residents and that the said T-shirt belong to the political slate of Team Magalong, of which Farinas is a member.
In the voting involving the position of city councilor, Ortega asserted that numerous anomalies in the election process have been observed such as in barangay Asin where poll leaders of a candidate for mayor were holding the voter’s list and actively herding voters into the polling precincts aside from persons with disabilities and senior citizens were instructed to shade their ballots in an area outside the polling precincts. Instead of feeding their ballots into the VCM, Comelec employees would instead go inside the precinct and allegedly feed the ballot where there is no assurance that the said employees indeed fed the ballots into the VCM.
With all the reported fraudulent incidents, Ortega questioned the integrity of the ballots and the votes that were casted in the said places and that they were numerous anomalies such as the rampant vote buying which are clear violations of the provisions of the Omnibus election Code apart from the unjust denial of their right to vote on the part of a significant number of voters.