THE preliminary conference on the election protest filed by former vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson against Bacolod City Representative Greg Gasataya before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) will be held on March 7.

The notice, sent to both parties, stated that the hearing will be conducted at 10 a.m. at the hearing room of the Electoral Tribunal Building in Commonwealth Avenue, Quezon City.

Maria Cleza Zamora, HRET hearing officer, said failure to appear in the preliminary conference may result in the dismissal of the election protest.

Sayson welcomed the development.

“We filed it in July last year and we expect that the recount of votes will proceed. We expect that in the first 25 percent of the total ballots we presented, we can get a convincing result in our favor so that the whole 392 clustered precincts will be re-opened for recount,” he added.

For his part, Gasataya said his lawyers will attend the hearing.

“I leave the matter to my lawyers. There is a process and it will be up to HRET to decide on it,” Gasataya said.

Sayson, who ran under National Unity Party/Pamilya MKK, lost to Gasataya of Grupo Progreso who garnered 84,431 votes, while Gasataya got 85,467 votes.

Sayson, who was among the six congressional candidates, said his petition aims to verify the results, which indicated that more than 27,000 voters of the total turnout on election day in Bacolod did not cast their votes for congressman, but voted for other local positions.