THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) First Division has dismissed the petition for a recount filed by former Bacolod congressman Monico Puentevella on the result of the May 2010 elections against incumbent Mayor Evelio Leonardia.
Presiding Commissioner Rene Sarmiento and Commissioners Armando C. Velasco and Christian Robert S. Lim signed the decision dated February 1, 2013.
The First Division cited the results of the recount of ballots by the recount committee that showed the protestant (Puentevella) failed to demonstrate his expected reasonable recovery from 37 pilot clustered precincts identified by him.
"Wow. With barely three months to go (before the May 2013 election), who really cares? Even if I had won, does it matter? It's showtime already. What really counts now is the May 13, 2013 polls. Onward Bacolod," Puentevella said.
The former lawmaker said he is now focusing on how he could win against Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) Grupo Progreso mayoralty candidate Vice Mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson.
Based on the recount result, protestant only has 68 valid claims from the rejected ballots and, even though all the votes claimed by the protestee (Leonardia) are not credited in his favor, the protestant claims, assuming all are valid, were not able to reach the 20 percent of the total winning margin of votes between him and Leonardia.
The Comelec also said the 178 claimed votes by Puentevella could not be considered as reasonable recovery, even if it will be deducted from the protestee's votes all the objected 18 ballots and even as all the claims by the protestee be invalidated.
In the pilot precincts, Leonardia still leads the protestant by 3,226 votes and the average gain votes per precinct by Puentevella could not bring the necessary gains in all the remaining contested precincts to overcome the lead.
To recall, Leonardia and Puentevella vied for the Bacolod City mayoralty post in the 2010 polls.
Leonardia received a total number of 93,519 votes and was proclaimed the winner by the City Board of Canvassers on May 12, 2010.
Puentevella garnered 86,258 votes and, based on the figures appearing on the Certificate of Canvass and Proclamation, Leonardia has a total winning margin of 7,261 votes over Puentevella.
Puentevella, aggrieved by the results, filed his verified protest contesting the proclamation on May 24, 2010 and protested all 397 precincts on the grounds of massive fraud and irregularities in the conduct of election, in the casting and counting and transmission of the results of the ballots and the preparation and canvassing of election returns.
The former congressman pointed that the results transmitted by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) are not 100 percent accurate, its integrity is questionable, unreliable, can easily be manipulated by members of the Board of Election Inspectors, that the unusual high number of voters who did not vote for the position off mayor and the unusual high turnout of voters is strong evidence of irregularities in the conduct of elections.
Evidences presented by both Leonardia and Puentevella consisted of recount committee's reports baring down the various objected and claimed ballots marked as exhibits, observation of the parties, statistical reports, project of precincts and certificates of candidacy of both parties.