May 9 polls ‘credible, honest’ despite claims of electoral fraud, says Comelec Cebu official

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AN OFFICIAL of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has insisted that the recently concluded national and local elections in Cebu Province were “credible and honest” despite allegations from some defeated politicians that electoral fraud occurred during the May 9 polls.

Lawyer Jerome Brillantes, Comelec Cebu Provincial Office acting election supervisor, assured the general public, including the candidates and voters, that the May 9, 2022 elections were “credible and honest” as certified by the electoral watchdogs such as the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

“PPCRV and other watchdogs have signified how credible our election is,” Brillantes told SunStar Cebu.

Brilliantes gave the reaction after defeated Pinamungajan town mayoral candidate Salipada “Liplip” Cerna filed a petition for a recount of the ballots due to the alleged occurence of electoral fraud during the elections in the town.

Cerna, who ran under Promdi, lost by 1,964 votes to One Cebu Party’s Jecjec Baricuatro, the wife of incumbent Pinamungajan Mayor and vice mayor-elect Glenn Baricuatro.

The defeated mayoral candidate garnered only 19,343 votes while Baricuatro secured 21,307 votes.

Cerna’s petition was filed 19 days after the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Pinamungajan proclaimed Baricuatro as the winner on May 10, or a day after the elections with 21 judicial affidavits representing barangays attesting to the misreadings done by the vote counting machines (VCM).

Cerna claimed that “aside from the massive ubiquitous vote buying, harassment and employment of high-handed tactics such as arresting the key leaders of the Protestant and depriving them of their rights to vote, the vot(e) counting machine is being used to deprive the Municipality of Pinamungajan of the rightful Mayor to lead the municipality.”

He cited hundreds of alleged “misreadings” by the VCMs as reflected on the receipts and alleged that they were only told that such occurence was merely a technical problem and would only be recorded in the minutes of the voting.

Apart from that, Cerna also said there were no rejected ballots on Election Day in the town and that there was no rejected ballot recorded in the election return even though the Municipal Certificate of Canvass later noted a total of 1,946 rejected ballots.

Brillantes said these are merely allegations and that he is not allowed to answer since these are already brought to the court.

The acting elections supervisor said it is up to Cerna how they will prove their claims and for the incumbent mayor to defend themselves.

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