Poll protest against Gasataya junked

THE House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) in Quezon City dismissed the electoral protest filed by former Bacolod City vice mayor Jude Thaddeus Sayson against Representative Greg Gasataya.

The eight-page resolution promulgated on November 23, 2017 was signed by Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco Jr., chairperson, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta and Mariano Del Castillo, and its members Representatives Jorge Almonte, Rodel Batocabe, Abigail Faye Ferriol-Pascual, Joaquin Chipeco Jr., Jose Carlos Cari, and Abdullah Dimaporo.

The resolution stated that the Tribunal grants protestee’s motion for reconsideration dated June 5, 2017 and reconsiders Resolution No. 17-093 dated May 2, 2017, which denied his affirmative defense raised in his answer with special and affirmative defenses and counterclaims dated October 18, 2017.

“Consequently, the instant election protest is dismissed for being insufficient in form and substance, in accordance with Rule 23, paragraph 1 of the 2015 HRET Rules, with no pronouncement as to costs,” the order further stated.

The Tribunal said the protestee anchored his motion on two grounds, first, he reiterated that the petition failed to allege the specific acts or omissions constituting the electoral frauds, anomalies, or irregularities in the contested precincts, and the particular clustered precincts where the alleged anomalies, or irregularities, or fraud occurred or were committed.

It stated that the petition merely stated protestant’s own general and unfounded conclusion or speculation of malfunction and/or pre-programming of the vote counting machines (VCMs) without indicating the manner, the time, and at which stage of the electoral process the VCMs malfunctioned or were pre-programs to favor protestee. Hence, he contended that the petition, being insufficient in form and substance, should be dismissed pursuant to Rule 23 of the HRET Rules, the Tribunal added.

The order stated that based on the excerpts of the transcript of stenographic notes and the pre-trial order, it is obvious that protestant had no proof of the alleged malfunctioning and/or hacking of VCMs which had caused the rejection and/or omission of ballots by the VCMs and that his only basis in filing the instant protest was the alleged questionable disparity of the valid votes cast equivalent to a figure of 27,953, which he ascertained but merely subtracting the sum of all the votes garnered by all six congressional candidates in Bacolod City, which is equivalent to 207,688 votes, from the total number of voters who actually voted as per the City Certificate of Canvass, that is 235, 641 voters.

From the foregoing admissions made under oath by protestant, it is clear that he essentially filed the instant petition merely on the belief and personal conclusion that he could have won the elections if the alleged omitted, unread, and unappreciated votes could have been determined in his favor. Thus, there is actually no cause of action to speak of as he failed to state any specific fact constituting the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities, the order further stated.

Sayson, who ran under the National Unity Party/Pamilya MKK, lost to Gasataya of Grupo Progreso after garnering 84,431 votes. Gasataya got 85,467 votes in the 2016 elections.

Gasataya said he received a copy of the decision yesterday and the HRET unanimously decided on the vote of 9-0 to dismiss the electoral protest filed against him for lack of cause of action.

“The election protest has no basis, and for me, this a vindication because from the very start I have not committed irregularities when it comes to that election,” he added.

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