POLL watchers need to watch carefully in the next elections.
This was the advice of Cebu City south district election officer Ferdinand Gujilde after Team Rama complained about the ballot box from a clustered precinct in Barangay Mambaling that was in the custody of the City Treasurer’s Office and two other ballot boxes from Barangays Luz and Cambinocot that were stored inside the canvassing center.
These were the polling precincts that were canvassed last because of defective compact flash cards.
“There was no irregularity, which means fears were unfounded, baseless,” Gujilde said, pointing out that Team Rama’s mayor and vice mayoral candidates—reelectionist Mike
Rama and Councilor Edgardo Labella--won.
Gujilde said it was also shown that the ballots inside the Mambaling ballot box were intact and were properly sealed with the metal wire, plastic seal and packing tape.
“The problem is watchers don’t know what to watch out for,” he said.
This is also his stand on the issue raised by the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) when it filed a motion to count rejected ballots.
Gujilde said this was also part of the watcher’s job.
The watcher would have been the best person to question the rejected ballot at the level of the polling precinct under the jurisdiction of the Board of Election Inspectors.
The motion was denied for lack of jurisdiction of the Cebu City Board of Canvassers, which Gujilde chairs.
BOPK head and losing mayoral candidate Rep. Tomas Osmeña (Cebu City, south district) said they will file two separate electoral protests before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc.
One protest will be for the mayoral elections and another for the close vice mayoral contest between vice mayor-elect Labella and reelectionist candidate Joy Augustus Young.
Osmeña said he has until Friday to file the protest because it should be filed 10 days after the proclamation of the mayor. Rama was proclaimed on May 14.
Young has more time to gather evidence and file a protest because Labella was proclaimed on May 16 after winning by a mere 184 votes.
Team Rama campaign manager Jose Daluz III said he expected the complaint, adding that BOPK is just “bitter” for losing the mayoral and vice mayoral contests.
BOPK is wondering it won 12 of the 16 positions for councilor and the two city representatives but the top two posts went to Team Rama.
“They have to prove that the rejected ballots favor their candidate basin diay mas
modaug pa nuon ang Team Rama (because it might come out that more of our candidates won),” Daluz said.
Daluz, who also denied there was vote-buying, said he is optimistic about the new set of councilors and the presiding officer.
“Some of the councilors are fair-minded. They will support the program of the mayor as long as it’s for the people,” he said.