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SC: Glitch no reason to void mayor’s win

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking to nullify the election of a town mayor in Antique allegedly due to glitches in the operation of the Precinct Court Optical Scan (PCOS) machines and strange pattern of votes in the May 2013 local elections.

In an en banc decision, the high court denied for lack of merit the petition filed by Fernando Corvera seeking to nullify the order dated July 8, 2013 issued by Judge Adriano Savillo of the Regional Trial Court  of San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, Branch 12. Savillo’s order dismissed  the election protest against the proclamation of Rony Molina as duly-elected mayor of the town.

In a ruling against Corvera, the high court stressed that the losing candidate should have appealed to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) due to its previous administrative order on similar matters.

“The petitioner attempts to present allegedly legitimate and novel issues which to his mind, only this Court can pass upon. A perusal of the issues shows that these matters which can be properly addressed by the Comelec on appeal,” the SC declared.

The tribunal also said that the petitioner has lost the remedy of appeal and filed the petition under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court.

“It is the rule that a petition for certiorari is not a substitute for a lost appeal,” the Court emphasized.

“In any event, the Court finds no grave abuse of discretion on the part of Judge Savillo in issuing the Order dated July 8, 2013,” the SC said.

In the May 14, 2013 elections, the Municipal Board of Canvassers proclaimed Molina as the duly-elected mayor after obtaining the highest number of votes cast of 11,459. Corvera came in second with 11,412 votes.

Citing alleged glitches and strange pattern of votes obtained by the candidates in the Certificate of Canvass, Corvera filed his election protest with the RTC.

Corvera alleged that “on election day, in a number of clustered precincts, the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used in the conduct of the elections, either malfunctioned, failed to properly scan official ballots fed into them, had defective Compact Flash (CF) cards and failed to transmit official results to the Municipal Board of Canvassers, Provincial Board of Canvassers, Central Server (CS), Dominant Majority Political Party, Dominant Minority Political Party and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting.”

Corvera also stressed that “the foregoing glitches cast a serious cloud of doubt as to the veracity, authenticity, and validity of the election results in the municipality of San Jose.

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