THE 2nd Division of the Commission of Elections (Comelec) recently dismissed the electoral protest filed by losing Taguig mayoral candidate Arnel Cerafica.

In 2019 elections, Mayor Lino Cayetano beat Cerafica by gathering 172,710 votes compared to the latter’s 109,313 votes. Despite the huge margin of victory of 63,357 votes, Cerafica lost no time in submitting an election protest.

In its order released on January 31, 2022, the Comelec did not find any evidence of the alleged irregularities, such as malfunctioning vote counting machines (VCMs), vote buying, ballot shading by poll watchers, and distribution of sample ballots, which supposedly marred the mayoral elections.

The contested ballots, which were opened and manually reviewed, unerringly indicated the clear preference of the voters for Cayetano.

The 252-page order set forth the meticulous and detailed observations and rulings of the eight Revision Committees, which were tasked to review the ballots cast in 93 pilot protested precincts comprising 20 percent of the 467 protested precincts.

In the VCM counting of the ballots cast in the said 93 precincts, 33,557 votes were tallied for Cayetano while 25,463 votes were tallied for Cerafica.

Comelec rules mandate that an electoral protestant must obtain substantial recovery in the pilot contested precincts in order for the protest to continue with the review of the ballots in the rest of the contested precincts.

The substantial recovery rule requires a protestant to produce a marginal increase equivalent to 20 percent of the total winning margin.

Inasmuch as Cayetano's lead was 63,357 votes, Cerafica needed an additional 12,680 recovery votes in order for his protest to continue with the revision of ballots in the rest of the contested precincts.

In the tabulated and detailed visual examination of the ballots done by the Revision Committees, the results showed negligible difference in the votes counted in the 93 precincts.

Cerafica was credited with 82 additional votes, but debited with 11 votes. His total votes barely jumped from 25,463 to 25,534 (a net gain of 71).

But Cayetano was also credited with 70 additional votes while being debited with 15 votes. His total votes thus increased from 33,557 to 33,612 (a net gain of 55).

Cerafica's recovery votes thus stood at only 16, way below the required 12,680 votes. With the clear confirmation of the unassailable margin of Cayetano, the Comelec had no choice but to abbreviate the protest by dismissing the same.

In the forthcoming May 2022 elections, Cerafica is once more running for the mayoralty of Taguig City. His opponent would be Congresswoman Lani Cayetano, who was elected mayor by overwhelming majority in 2010, 2013, and 2016. (Sponsored Content)