Lente official on Davao City count: No fraud, just human errors

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/26 May) – Plain human errors not fraud caused the
discrepancies in the tally of votes for senatorial candidates and party-list
groups in Davao City, according to a local official of the Legal Network for
Truthful Elections (Lente) of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines.

Lawyer Manuel Quibod, IBP-Davao City chapter president and local Lente head,
also hinted that discrepancies might have occurred but went unnoticed in the
tally of votes for local candidates.

Quibod clarified that while the lapses were committed by the Board of
Canvassers, “there was no special ops (operations) here,” adding the errors
were observed to be permissible.

“Good thing there was a second set of tabulators who uncovered more errors,”
he said.

He said the ‘rectified’ and final results released by the BOC after a 6-day
recount triggered by irregularities showed that Recto got more votes than he
actually obtained.The BOC reconvened on Saturday during which its chair, lawyer Irma Vera
Morcillo, said the discrepancy was caused by human error. She asked her
deputy, Josephine Peñas, to illustrate to the lawyers in the session how they
discovered and rectified the error.

She stressed it was the board itself that discovered the discrepancy first and
rectified the error right away.

“It is the board who discovered its own error through vice chair Josephine
Peñas. We are not proud of it, neither are we ashamed nor hiding it,” she said
as the board prepared to release its final tally.

“I think at this time what is important is what we did or what we are doing to
rectify that mistake,” she added.

The board adjusted at least 36 errors in the tally for the senatorial votes,
29 of them coming from the tabulation of results for the first district.

Among the significant errors discovered in two sets of tabulations is the
additional votes for Recto.

The votes of Aquilino Pimentel III, totaling 84, 036, were included in Recto’s
making him rank 5th here. In the ‘rectified’ results Recto is no. 14.

The rectification caused candidates from both Team Unity and Genuine
Opposition to either gain or lose votes.

Among the common errors was the transposition of numbers. For example, Tarlac
Rep. Benigno Aquino III’s 1, 378 votes were tallied as 3, 178.

The other errors include double entry and entry of wrong digits.

Peñas explained to reporters that the bulk of Statement of Votes tallied for
the first district caused so much stress to the tabulators, making them prone
to errors.

Quibod said the “rectified” tally reflected accurate results of the elections
in Davao City. He said, however, that the BOC could have done something to
avoid the discrepancies.

He hinted that there were management issues within the BOC. “Was there a good
team work between the chair and the local Comelec personnel? Did the chair
have the full support of the local personnel?

“Where they able to orient well about tasking [sic]? Did they have a dry run
on the tabulations?” he asked.

MindaNews tried to interview Morcillo but was referred to Pañes.

Lawyers for the GO said no vote-padding and shaving occurred in the city based
on available proof.

Carlos Zarate, GO lawyer and counsel for Taguig-Pateros Rep. Allan Peter
Cayetano, said they will accept the explanation of the BOC “unless there is
evidence to the contrary.”

He added the outright rectification of error by the BOC was commendable.

Glocelito Jayma, Zarate’s colleague at GO, said if the errors were reported
only in Davao City, it could be permissible.

He said, however, that GO received reports the “clerical error” case here
fitted the pattern elsewhere citing alleged similar “errors” in Davao del Sur,
where canvassing has been suspended.

The problem is if the “errors” occurred in Davao City where there are many
watchers, what more in other areas, especially less urbanized? Quibod told
MindaNews.

He said they will push for automated elections to do away with errors (Walter
I. Balane/MindaNews)

__._,_.___

About mindanaw

A Journalist from Mindanao

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