RECOUNT OF VOTES
    SC finally junks Gov’s petition

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    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – The Supreme Court has denied the petition of Gov. Eddie Panlilio to junk an earlier verdict of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for a recount of votes cast in the 2007 polls in all towns in this province.

    Panlilio’s legal counsel Ernesto Francisco told Punto he received only yesterday the Supreme Court’s resolution junking the motion for reconsideration (MR) filed only last July 24. The motion was filed after the high court issued last July 17 the same ruling that allowed the recount of votes.

    Francisco noted that the Supreme Court resolution was “personally served” to him yesterday, although it was dated last July 28 or, he noted, only four days after Panlilio, through his lawyers, filed the MR.

    “At the rate this protest case is being disposed of and with the resources of the Pinedas and the clout of Malacanang combined, they might just succeed,” he said.

    Francisco was referring to former provincial board member Lilia Pineda who, in July 2007, filed an electoral protest after she lost to Panlilio in the last gubernatorial race by 1,147 votes. She claimed anomalies, including vote-buying, as well as misreading of ballots that led to her loss.

    Panlilio, a former parish priest who was suspended from his ministry when he ran for governor, ran as independent with the support of civil society groups, while Pineda was the official candidate of the administration Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (Kampi). Pineda’s husband, Rodolfo “Bong” Pineda, was once tagged as an alleged gambling lord, and their son Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda was the president of the Pampanga Mayors’ League at the time of the last polls up to now.

    The Pinedas are known to be close to Pres. Arroyo who considers Lubao her hometown.

    Earlier, Romulo Macalintal, another of Panlilio’s volunteer lawyers, said the electoral would eventually be rendered moot as he expected it to be overtaken by the May polls next year.

    Provincial Comelec supervisor Temmie Lambino said he was prepared to transport ballot boxes from 4,836 precincts in 20 towns and one city in this province as soon as he gets the go signal from the Comelec central office.

    He said that ballot boxes have remained in the safekeeping of the treasurer’s offices in the towns and city and would be moved to a location at the provincial capitol here from where they are to be transported to the Comelec central office in Manila for a recount. The police, he said, will be escorting the ballot boxes throughout the transport from the towns to Manila.

    Lambino said that the transport cost would be shouldered by Pineda as provided by law.

    In 2007, the Comelec’s second division Commissioner Florentino Tuason granted Pineda’s petition for the recount of votes. He later junked a motion for reconsideration filed by Panlilio, paving the way for Pineda to deposit some P4.4 million with the division for expenses to be incurred for the recount as provided by law. The Supreme Court, acting on Panlilio’s plea, later issued a status quo order that prevented the transport of the ballots to Manila for vote recount. This order, however, was lifted last July 17.

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