THE manual recount is yet to begin but Candy Darimbang seemed confident the election protest she lodged against 1st District Representative Rolando Uy will go her way.
On Tuesday, September 5, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) ruled that Darimbang's election protest is sufficient in form and substance, paving the way for the start of the manual recount.
Darimbang said she is set to pay on Monday next week an estimated P1.262 million for the retrieval of election paraphernalia for her electoral protest.
The manual recount will cover 204 ballot boxes from the entire 1st District 1 of Cagayan de Oro.
Darimbang said she was overwhelmed upon knowing the unanimous decision of HRET in favor to her request.
“I thank the people who helped us, no less than the House Speaker himself who helped me with this, I am not a member of the party but he assured me he will help. Speaker Alvarez told me that he will welcome me in the Congress very soon, and even invited me to join their party,” she said.
“I am very confident that I won the last election, this is why I'm pursuing the protest. We will let truth prevail, on the manual recount,” she said.
Darimbang said the recount would likely take place late this month or next month, October.
But lawyer Angeline Carrasco Genoso, Uy's legal counsel, said they have yet to decide whether they will question the Commission on Election's order or just proceed with the recounting of ballots.
“How come Darimbang is saying she is winning the protest when we have not yet even started with the recounting of the ballots? This is a misinformation to the pubic which her camp should not be doing,” Genoso said, in a text message.
Genoso said Uy had earlier asked for Darimbang to first prove the occurrence of “general fraud” before the ballots are recounted.
Uy said Darimbang is undermining the automated election “if by mere allegation of fraud, any protestant could now just easily demand for recount.”
Genoso said that while Darimbang alleged in her poll protest that there was fraud in the 2016 elections, the losing candidate has not submitted a single proof of cheating, such as protest in the precinct level, or affidavit of relevant witnesses.
“She merely wants to rely on the recounting of ballots to prove fraud. The HRET, in its latest order, just said that the election protest of Darimbang is sufficient in form and substance, meaning, they just complied with the rules in filing a protest, thus it is the ministerial duty of the tribunal to proceed with the recounting of ballots,” she added.
The HRET is composed of nine members, three of whom are Justices of the Supreme Court, as designated by the Chief Justice, and the remaining 6 are Members of the House of Representatives.
City Comelec Officer lawyer Ramil Acol, meanwhile, said that all the election materials are ready for transport.
“Ang transportation apil na sa sagot ni protestant Darimbang. But ready na ang documents, election paraphernalia, and are waiting for transport, hulat lang mi sa iya,” Acol said.
It can be recalled that last June, the HRET has ordered the Comelec and the Cagayan de Oro City treasurer to turn over the May 2016 election records for the city's First Congressional District.
Early this year, the local poll body and the city treasurer conducted an inventory and resealing of the said ballot boxes for the First District following the order of preservation from the HRET.
Darimbang filed her protest before the HRET last May 24, 2016 and sought for a manual recount of votes after she lost her bid against the re-electionist Uy with a difference of 5,886 votes.