SC: Digital images of ballots can be used in poll protest-A A +A
Thursday, February 7, 2013
DIGITAL representations of the ballots cast by voters using the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine can be a basis in the recount of votes in any election protest, the Supreme Court recently said.
This was contrary to the belief of losing Camarines Norte congressional bet Liwayway Vinzons-Chato, who insisted that an official ballot is the paper ballot printed by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas or the National Printing Office.
Penned by Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe, the SC said Section 2(3) of the Poll Automation Law (Republic Act 9369) provides that “the picture images of the ballots as scanned and recorded by the PCOS, are likewise official ballots that faithfully captures in electronic form the votes cast by the voter.”
“As such, the printouts thereof are the functional equivalent of the paper ballots filled out by the voters and, thus, may be used for purposes of revision of votes in an electoral protest,” stated the 20-page-resolution, which junked Chato’s petition to reverse the October 2012 decision of the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) on her poll protest.
Chato went to the High Court after she assailed the HRET for directing the copying of ballots for her poll protest against Representative Elmer Panotes of Camarines Norte’s second district.
She lost the election by 3,882 votes to Panotes, who had 51,878 votes in the 2010 elections. Panotes’ win can no longer be overturned, the SC said, since it is “beyond our power to restrict or curtail.”
Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, Jr., chairman of the HRET and members, Justices Lucas Bersamin and Diosdado Peralta inhibited from the case while the rest concurred with the January 22 decision including Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)