By Florence F. Hibionada/ PNS
All is officially set on the recount of ballots that sealed the win of Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and Iloilo City Lone District Representative.
This, as the legal counsel from the contested camp confirmed the scheduled revision with opening of ballot boxes and manual recount firmed up.
In an interview, lawyer Guillermo “Boy” Alcantara said its all-systems go for the August 31 recount with results to be known 5 days thereafter.
The recount will focus on 86 of the city’s 344 clustered precincts. All were chosen by the petitioners, father and son tandem, former Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr. and Representative Raul Jr.
Should there be a discrepancy in records of opposite sides, picture images of the contested election returns will next be used.
“We are eager to finish the revision as fast as we can,” Alcantara said. “We want this done…in fact if you would note, we did not even file a counter-protest.”
The recount is seen as final testing ground of Mabilog’s mayorship and Trenas’ congressional post. Such as the Petitions filed by the Gonzalezes were granted by the Commission On Elections (COMELEC) and the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) respectively.
To note, at least P3 million were prepared as recount-expense.
Once started, trending or margin of votes cast will determine if the rest of the electoral returns in the city’s established precincts will also be manually counted.
“If there is a trend that Gonzalez is winning, then we proceed with the rest of the results. If not, then it will have to stop in the pilot precincts,”Gonzalez counsel Eugenio Original then said.
In the case of the mayoralty bout, some 8,000 “missing”votes will be determined and expected to be validated in the said exercise. Such, Original explained, was based on the total number of votes cast less number of votes obtained by the protagonists.
Docketed as HRET Case No. 10-043 (EP), Associate Justice Conchita Carpio Morales, HRET Chairperson issued the latest order dated June 6, 2011.
With 344 clustered precincts subject of protest proper, 35 “revision teams” have been set with 5 ballots per day slated for completion per team.
The COMELEC First Division for its part in its latest Order sought for HRET approval to allow the Commission custody of ballots, ballot boxes, election documents, keys and other election paraphernalia used in the May 10, 2010 automated national and local elections.