Bacolod congressional candidate Jude Thaddeus Sayson, who ran under the National Unity Party/Pamilya MKK, filed an election protest against Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya of Grupo Progreso before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal yesterday, seeking a recount of the votes cast in all clustered precincts in Bacolod City during the May 9 elections.
Sayson, who is represented by his legal counsel Eduardo Padios, asked the HRET to direct the City Election Officer of Bacolod and the City Treasurer to take precautionary measures to safeguard the integrity of the ballot boxes, the voter's registration records, the election day computerized voter's list and other documents or paraphernalia used in the election, as well as the SD cards containing electronic data evidencing the conduct and the result of the election in the protested clustered precincts in Bacolod.
He also asked that all the ballot boxes containing the ballots and other documents and paraphernalia used in the May 9 elections be brought to the HRET.
Sayson also prayed that the proclamation of Gasataya as the elected member of the House of Representatives representing Bacolod City be annulled and set aside, and that he be declared as the winner and the duly elected member of the House representing Bacolod.
“We want to check the authenticity of the election results,” Sayson, a former vice mayor of Bacolod, said as he filed an election protest for recount before the HRET yesterday morning.
Sayson, who lost to Gasataya by about 1,027 votes, said the petition aims to verify the results which indicated that more than 27,000 voters of the total turnout on election day did not cast their votes for congressman.
He said he finds it highly improbable for voters to purposely and intentionally skip the congressional slot while casting their votes for other local positions.
Sayson is protesting the correctness of election results and the votes obtained by Gasataya in all 392 clustered precincts in Bacolod City.
He garnered 84,431 votes, while Gasataya got 85,467 votes.
Why would 27,000 people ignore the congressional contest by not voting for their candidate when more than 1,200 even voted for Rolando Villamor, who had already withdrawn his candidacy for congressman months before the election? Sayson asked.
This inconsistency, he claimed, had encouraged him to test the veracity of the results and the dependability of the vote counting machines (VCM).
Sayson said the protest is not a personal attack on Gasataya, adding that his primary objective is to ensure that the VCM results were accurate.
“If after the recount Gasataya will still win, I will accept it. After all, the manual audit of ballots is not necessarily to unseat him, but to verify the accuracy of the VCM operation,” he reiterated.
Under the rules of HRET, Sayson has until today to file a protest against Gasataya who was proclaimed winner by the City Board of Canvassers two days after the election.
He recalled that aside from him, his partymates former Bacolod Mayor Monico Puentevella and his running mate Vladimir Gonzalez have also filed election protests before the Comelec, aside from vice presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino, who have filed separate protests before the Supreme Court.
So he does not know who will be given priority over the ballot boxes, he added.
Sayson was accompanied by his counsel, Padios, former councilor Homer Bais and supporters when he filed the petition, docketed as Election Protest Case No. 16-009 at the HRET.
Asked for his reaction, Gasataya said he respects the process being afforded by law regarding the matter. The burden to prove their allegations is with the petitioner.
“As your duly elected representative, I will continue to perform the functions mandated of me to do,” he said.*CGS
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