Poll complaint filed in Philippines

The defeated running mate of new Philippine President filed an election protest seeking to overturn the outcome of the vote for vice president in the May 10 poll.

Poll complaint filed in Philippines

The defeated running mate of new Philippine President Benigno Aquino III on Friday filed an election protest seeking to overturn the outcome of the vote for vice president in the May 10 poll.

Manuel Roxas II, a former senator and president of the Liberal Party, lost the vice-presidency by about 727,000 votes to Jejomar Binay, former mayor of the capital's financial district and the running mate of former President Joseph Estrada.

"I owe it to our people to ensure that the electoral process will truly be an instrument of their will," Roxas said in a statement.

The protest will not hold up the new government's agenda, which took office last week, with Aquino having appointed his cabinet. As a failed election candidate, Roxas is ineligible for a government job for one year.

A spokesman for Aquino said the president respected Roxas' right to file a protest, but had no further comment.

Roxas was not present when his lawyers filed his protest. In an earlier statement, he had said Aquino supported his moves to question the election results and find out whether the automated system was fraud-proof.

In his 102-page petition to the Supreme Court, which also sits as the presidential electoral tribunal, Roxas sought a manual recount of about 3 million votes for vice president that were either not counted or were considered stray or null by the election commission.

Votes could be invalidated for reasons including incorrect shading on ballot cards that could not be read by electronic counting machines, which were being used for the first time, or by selecting more than one candidate for vice president.

High incidence

Roxas' lawyer, Pancho Joaquin, said three areas had been identified in the central Philippines where Roxas performed strongly but there was a high incidence of null votes that had lowered his overall vote count.

"Incidence of null/misread votes was interestingly high in provinces where protestant (Roxas) won while curiously low in provinces where protestee (Binay) allegedly won," the petition said.

Roxas noted very high voter turnout in some areas, such as nearly 98 percent in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), where he had unusually low vote tallies. In 688 clustered precincts in the ARMM, he said he received 10 votes or less.

"The fact that all registered voters turned out to vote and even voted for the same candidate is a statistical improbability that points towards the conduct of fraud, anomalies and irregularities in the conduct of elections in certain clustered precincts, particularly in the ARMM," Roxas said.

Jose Bautista, a spokesman for Binay, said the election was "fair, honest, peaceful and transparent".

"We recognise his right to file a protest," said Bautista. "But if the basis of the protest is the so-called 'null votes', Mar Roxas should be prepared to lose a second time."

Election protests in the Philippines can be expensive and tedious. Cases involving contested results can take longer than a congressional term to resolve.


Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Temmuz 2010, 16:37

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