30 defeated candidates file protests

Manila, Philippines -- A total 30 defeated congressional candidates, led by actor Aga Muhlach, have filed before the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) protests against the proclaimed congressional winners in the May 13 elections.

Joining Muhlach, who called for a recount of the ballots in the Fourth District of Camarines Sur, were re-electionists Deputy Speaker Raul Daza (First District, Northern Samar); Reps. Benjamin Benaldo (First District, Cagayan de Oro City); Tomas Apacible (First District, Batangas); Mary Mitzy Cajayon (Second District, Caloocan City); Aurelio Gonzales (Third District, Pampanga) and Lord Allan J. Velasco (Lone District, Marinduque).

Liberal Party stalwart and former Camarines Norte Rep. Liwayway Vinzons-Chato filed another election protest against incumbent Rep. Elmer Panotes who won by a margin of over 26,000 votes.

It will be recalled that Chato also protested Panotes' victory by 4,000 when they squared off in 2010. Panotes, a member of the opposition Lakas-CMD, padded his lead further after the HRET conducted a recount of the ballots cast.

In his complaint, Muhlach questioned the invalidation of 14,738 ballots in the congressional race in Camarines Sur. He received 80,629 votes against the 82,834 received by proclaimed winner, former Rep. Felix William "Wimpy" Fuentebella.

Other entertainment celebrities embroiled in an election controversy are re-elected Rep. Lani Mercado (Bacoor City) and newcomer Alfred Vargas (Second District, Quezon City).

A quo warranto case was filed by defeated candidate Jessie Castillo against Mercado while Vargas' win was protested by former Rep. Annie Susano.

Daza, one of the senior LP lawmakers in the Lower House, claimed he was cheated in the counting of the ballots that led to the proclamation of returning Rep. Harlin Abayon.

Benaldo has also claimed fraud in the vote count that was won by newcomer Rolando Uy.

Gonzales accused former San Fernando Mayor Oscar Rodriguez of resorting to vote-buying. To prove his point, he presented seven witnesses who received checks amounting P3,000 to P5,000 that were allegedly distributed by Rodriguez on May 10.

Velasco, son of HRET chairman and Supreme Court Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco, filed an election protest against LP bet Regina Reyes as he claimed being cheated in the canvassing of votes.

Reyes' qualification as candidate has also been questioned in a separate HRET complaint filed by a certain Christopher Matienzo. The complainant noted that Reyes had already been disqualified from joining the congressional race for not being a Filipino citizen.

Also protested despite posting wide leads were proclaimed Representatives-elect Edgar Erice and Eileen Ermita by complaints filed by Cajayon and Apacible, respectively. Erice was a member of the 11th Congress while Ermita sat as congresswoman in the 13th and 14th Congress.

Former Camarines Sur Rep. LRay Villafuerte protested the proclamation of incumbent Rep. Diosdado Ignacio "Dato" Arroyo, son of former President and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

The young Arroyo snatched a surprise victory against Villafuerte, touted as a strong favorite against Dato. Boxing icon and Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao's younger brother, barangay chairman Rogelio Pacquiao, had also sought the annulment of the proclamation of incumbent Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. despite a wide margin separating them. Other election protest cases, which called for a revision and recount of the results of elections, were those filed by Ariel Rodriguez against Aileen Radaza (Lapu-Lapu City); Akmad Omar against Abdullah Dimaporo (Second District, Lanao del Norte); Eduardo Matillano against Douglas Hagedorn (Palawan); Hans Roger Luna against Rep. Jocelyn Bernos (Lone District, Abra); Orlando Salatandre Jr. against Roman Romulo (Lone District, Pasig City); Carlos Valdez against Raden Sakaluran (Lone District, Sultan Kudarat); Rodolfo Plaza against Rep. Evelyn Mellana (Second District, Agusan del Sur); Emilio Yulo against Alejandro Mirasol (Fifth District, Negros Occidental); Rolando Yebes against Rep. Rosendo Labadlabad (Second District, Zamboanga del Norte); Wilfredo Tanada against Angelina Tan (FourthDistrict, Quezon); Niel Tupas against Hernan Biron Jr. (Fourth District, Iloilo); Barbara Ruby Talaga against Vincent Alcala (Second District, Quezon); Faysah Dumarpa against Ansaruddin Adiong (First District, Lanao del Sur); Jerome Paras against Manuel Iway (First District, Negros Oriental); Jun Omar Ebdane against Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (Second District, Zambales and Richard Venancio Ziga against Edcel Lagman Jr. (First District, Albay).