Roxas files protest; Binay says Mar to lose again

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 09 2010 10:41 AM | Updated as of Jul 10 2010 06:30 PM

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) - Manuel Roxas, running mate of President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, filed Friday an electoral protest questioning the results of the May vice-presidential election as Vice-President Jejomar Binay warned Roxas to "be prepared to lose a second time."

In a 102-page petition, Roxas asked the Supreme Court, which sits as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, to consider close to 3 million null votes that were not counted by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. He said the null votes could easily erase the 727,084-vote margin of winning vice-presidential bet Jejomar Binay in the election.

Null votes were not counted because the ballots were incorrectly shaded or because more than one oval was shaded for an elective position.

Roxas also requested the PET to order an independent forensic examination of 26,000 compact flash cards used in the May polls, as well as the source code of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Roxas was a no-show at the filing of the protest but instead sent his lawyers, Attorneys Joey Tenefrancia and Bong Somera, to the High Court.

The Roxas camp spent P100,000 for the filing fee of the election protest. It said it expects to spend more than P7 million for the electoral protest once the Supreme Court approves a recount of the votes.

Before the filing of the petition, lawyer Pancho Joaquin said the Roxas camp will submit a list of 3 pilot areas that will be used by the PET as a deciding factor on whether it should continue counting the other contested ballots.

Joaquin said the 3 pilot areas may come from Eastern Visayas, Central Visayas and Western Visayas, where Roxas's camp believes there are a very high number of null votes.

He also said Roxas's election protest may be more expensive than the past protests filed before the PET.

He said that in a manual recount of votes, the PET asks for at least P1,500 per ballot box. He said the price may be higher since the PET would be using voting machines in recounting the votes.

He added that in the old system, a human is tasked as the "head revisor." Now, the head revisor would be the PCOS machine used in the May election, he said.

According to machine vendor Smartmatic-TIM, the PCOS machines will have to be reconfigured to count ballots that had only 51% partially shaded ovals.

Binay: Be prepared to lose again

In response to the election protest, the spokesman of Vice-President Jejomar Binay said it recognizes Roxas' right to file it, but warned that Roxas should be prepared to lose again.

"We will respond extensively to the election protest of Mar Roxas at the proper time. Our lawyers have yet to receive a copy of said protest," lawyer Jose Virgilio Bautista said in a statement issued by the Office of the Vice-President.

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

The Binay camp said the May 2010 elections were "fair, honest, peaceful and transparent," resulting in the restoration of the people's trust in the electoral process.

Bautista also pointed out that various exit poll results also had the same results as the official outcome.

"The national results also reflect the result of the exit polls conducted by reputable survey companies and media entities.  In fact, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) exit poll results had a variance of less than one percent with the actual results," Bautista said.

The Binay camp added: "Unfortunately, his [Roxas'] action tends to undermine the people’s newly-restored faith in the electoral process. It also shows that the old adage that there are no losers in Philippine elections, only those who were cheated, is still very much with us."