Judge orders poll officer to secure town's ballot boxes-A A +A
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A REGIONAL Trial Court (RTC) judge has ordered the election officer and the municipal treasurer of San Fernando town to secure the ballot boxes and ballots.
In Carmen, newly elected mayor Martin Gerard Villamor requested Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano to investigate the municipal treasurer, alleging that the town's ballot boxes were not secured and were placed outside the area designated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Villamor is concerned because he was informed that outgoing Mayor Sonia Pua is planning to file a protest, and the municipal treasurer is Pua's niece.
"As per election rules, all ballot boxes, after the voting, should be securely placed inside the municipal treasurer's office," Villamor said in his letter to Castillano.
In San Fernando, the order of Judge Ramon Daomilas Jr. followed the filing of an election protest by defeated mayoral candidate Lakambini Reluya against incumbent Vice Mayor Antonio Canoy last week.
"After examination of the allegation of the protest, the court deems it necessary to order the election officer and municipal treasurer to take appropriate measures to
safeguard the integrity of all ballot boxes and the ballots," said Daomilas in his precautionary protection order dated May 21.
In an interview, Reluya, the outgoing San Fernando mayor, said they agree with the order of the judge.
Reluya said the ballots are still being kept at the Municipal Treasurer's Office.
Apart from the ballot boxes, Daomilas also ordered the election officer and the town treasurer to secure the lists of voters and voting records, book of voters, data storage devices containing data and results of 49 precincts and other related documents used during the country's first automated elections.
Reluya of the Nacio-nalista Party-Alayon lost in the mayoral race after getting only 14,055 votes. Canoy of the Liberal Party was declared winner after garnering 15,329 or a margin of 1,271 votes.
In her complaint, Reluya sought a recount of the election returns from 49 clustered precincts.
Reluya alleged that "widespread anomalies" had been committed by Canoy and his political allies in all clustered precincts of San Fernando.
The incumbent mayor said the seals of the memory cards for the vote-counting machines were destroyed and non-registered voters were allowed to vote.
She also alleged fraud was perpetrated "with impunity" and their watchers were barred from entering the polling centers.
Such anomalies were committed in connivance with the election inspectors, said Reluya.
Reluya further claimed that some ballots have already been shaded in favor of Canoy in order for the other ballots not to be counted by the vote-counting machines.
Meanwhile, Carmen town's Villamor said he received reports that only 12 out of the 42 ballot boxes from the town's clustered precincts remain within the treasurer's office.
The other 30 ballot boxes were transferred to a room under the stairs leading to the second floor of the municipal building. This is in violation of Comelec's rules.
Villamor is the son of the late Carmen mayor Virginio Villamor, whom Pua engaged in a bitter political rivalry.
The Villamors are allied with Bakud Party, headed by Danao City Mayor Ramon "Nito" Durano III, who is considered the political head of Cebu's fifth district.