By LITO DELOS REYES
NORTH Cotabato Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza has won the electoral protest filed with the Comelec in Manila against her by former Gov. Emmanuel Piñol after the automated national and local elections last May 10.
The Comelec First Division issued an order promulgated last June 7 that there was “no prima facie merit in the election protest” as the protestant (Pinol) had not established reasonable recovery from the recount or revision on the pilot precints identified by Pinol himself.
“I’m happy that I’m vindicated. Hopefully they have openly accepted our victory,” said Gov. Taliño-Mendoza during an interview last Saturday in Davao City.
Piñol’s main contention in his protest is the “alleged massive cheating, electronic fraud, vote-padding, vote-buying and harassment of voters perpetrated by Gov. Taliño-Mendoza”.
The Comelec, however, stated that Piñol “failed to establish the merit of legitimacy of his protest from the pilot precints” he had selected under the belief that his claim as meritorious as to the rest of his claim. In effect, the inevitable conclusion is that there were no irregularites in the counted and transmitted results of the elections as the results of the physical count of the ballots reflect that of the trasmitted results and printed in the Election Returns and SOVP contrary to the assertion of Piñol that there were massive cheating, electronic fraud, vote-paddling, vote-buying and harrassment of voters.
Gov. Taliño-Mendoza had “expected the results as the dismissal of the baseless protest of Piñol is really reflective of the true will and choice of the electorate in the province of Cotabato during the last elections.’
“Nothing could chance the fact that I was given a resounding approval by the electorate during the May 10 election,” she said, who recently arrived from the United States,
According to the Comelec, Taliño-Mendoza garnered 236,966 votes compared to Piñol’s 199,332 votes or a difference of 37,634 votes from the 4,354 established precints grouped into 913 clustered precints of the province. The protest identified 1,280 established precints or 279 clustered precints in the 16 municipalities (there was no protest for any precint in the municipality of Tulunan) and Kidapawan City.
The revision or recount of the 56 pilot clustered precints was eventually held last September 5-9, 2011 at the PMO Work Area, Comelec in Manila.
Based on the results of the revision or recount of the 56 pilot precints identified by Piñol. “It was proven that there no were irregularities in the counted and transmitted results of the elections as the results of the physical cunt of the ballots reflect that of the transmitted results and printed in the election returns and SOVP,” said Gov. Taliño-Mendoza.
She explained that “the increase in number per physical count is due to the fact that there were some ballots or votes which were not counted by the PCOS due to the nature and character of the shading.
“This is the same reason for the total valid claims as these votes refer to those ballots which were not properly read (and counted) by the PCOS,” said the lady governor.
Piñol was not able to show that there substantial irregularities from the 20% pilot clustered precints subject of the manuel revision/recount of the ballots sufficient to overturn what was reflected therein as the tru will and choice of the elctorate in Cotabato, which was counted, transmitted and printed in the election returns and SOVP last May.
Piñol still has a chance to file for another reconsideration.
“But there is only one year left. He should now focus on the next elections in 2013,” she said.
Gov. Taliño-Mendoza, a former congresswoman, thanked the “Almighty God for the dismissal of the election protest against her.” She also extends her deep gratitude to all her supporters, leaders, well-wishers and her entire constituency in Cotabato for giving her this mandate and opportunity to serve under her program “Serbisyong Totoo”.