PPCRV Recount PR 3
September 17, 2009
Contact: PPCRV Secretariat at Tel. Nos. 860-53-38 or 961-41-12
Physical Recount Over, COMELEC to Set Hearings Soon
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC), on Wednesday (September 16, 2009), wrapped up work on the physical recount (which is stage 1 of the recount process involving sorting and classifying ballots and recording claims/objections) as the remaining 104 of the 4,839 ballot boxes were opened for revision.
As text messages containing figures and claiming victory for former Board Member Lilia Pineda started circulating on Wednesday, 2nd Division Presiding Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer reiterated his earlier statement that, “At this point, we do not know who is going to prevail. The COMELEC is not bound by press releases but by concrete evidence.” He admitted that this particular case had the biggest number of revision committees because time had been running out. The most number of committees ever created for a recount was 10 to 12 partly because of limited space at the COMELEC office in Intramuros, Manila .
In a meeting with representatives of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV-Pampanga) and the Holy Rosary Parish-Social Action Center (HRP-SAC), Comm. Ferrer stated that the Pampanga recount case will be resolved before the 2010 elections (although a definite time frame has not be set and will largely depend on the hearings and motions to be filed). He added that the COMELEC will not allow any party to delay the process any further and will instill discipline in the court hearings that are expected to start after the reports have been submitted and reviewed. The twenty one (21) revision committees have 10 days (from the end of the physical recount) to submit their consolidated committee reports for review of the COMELEC 2nd Division before the court hearings are set.
The Pampanga Recount stemmed from an election protest filed last May 25, 2007 by losing gubernatorial candidate Lilia Pineda against Gov. Eddie Panlilio on allegations of mis-appreciation and misreading of ballots and fraud and irregularities. The case reached the Supreme Court which issued an order stopping the COMELEC from retrieving the ballot boxes - an order that was lifted last July 15, 2009 paving the way for a recount that started on August 12, 2009.
All ballot boxes from Pampanga (excluding those of Angeles City) were immediately retrieved and brought to the COMELEC warehouse at the Maxi-lite Bldg. in U.N. Avenue for safekeeping until the physical recount could be completed. Juanito Roño, COMELEC-employed Custodian stationed at the warehouse revealed that three sets of security forces including the COMELEC’s ECAD (Electoral Contest Adjudication Department), an organic security force and the Special Action Force (SAF) have joined forces to provide ample security and protect the integrity of the ballots.
“This is part of democracy; everybody is entitled to due process,” said Comm. Ferrer as he urged the public to ‘at least presume that we are honest unless proven otherwise’ in the midst of controversies surrounding the Pampanga recount case. “Give us the benefit of the doubt,” he appealed as he recounted that the COMELEC has always been blamed by losing candidates and their supporters after each election. “Let’s give automation a try this coming 2010 elections instead of conjuring scenarios that sow fear and panic among the people,” he added. xxx