January 19th, 2011
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 20:17:00 01/18/2011
MANILA, Philippines—A Catholic nun who is at the forefront of a campaign to hold a manual recount of votes cast in Biliran in the May 2010 elections is standing by what she said was her eyewitness account of irregularities during the voting in the province. Biliran is an island-province located in Eastern Visayas.
In a statement, Sr. Erlinda Lanigao, of the Sisters for Christian Community in Naval, Biliran, said she would continue to contest the results of the elections.
Lanigao said only a manual recount of the votes could bring the truth out on elections in the province.
Lanigao, convenor of the “Biliran Kawsa” (A Cause for Biliran) Movement, vowed to pursue the campaign for a manual recount.
Reacting to an Inquirer story on Sunday, Lanigao said the statement of Commission on Elections officials that there was no fraud in the elections shouldn’t be taken hook, line and sinker.
Lanigao, in a sworn statement she submitted to support the manual recount campaign, said she was at the canvassing center when Dr. Rodolfo Espina was proclaimed as the congressional winner right after an outage disrupted the counting.
She said no statement of votes was provided to representatives of candidates contrary to what elections laws require.
A new group—the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)—said its quest for truth was not an insult to voters.
In a separate statement, the group said 26,000 voters from Biliran filed separate petitions at the Comelec and House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal five days after the May 10 elections.
“People are brave enough not only to affix their signatures, but also to identify themselves by writing down their names and addresses,” said JPIC convenor Sr. Gloria Carmen Eamiguel, FFM.
Six members of the Pastoral Parish Council for Responsible Voting came forward to execute sworn affidavits accusing a provincial election supervisor of lying about the number of precinct count optical scanning (PCOS) machines that have been assigned to Biliran.
They quoted provincial election officials as saying only 11 PCOS machines were assigned to Biliran when the actual number was 13. Two of the machines were later retrieved in the town of Kawayan, where Espina was mayor.
Records taken from Smartmatic, the election contractor that deployed the machines, said the town of Kawayan did not have any machine assigned to it.
Jose Nick Mendros, Comelec regional director, had said allegations of fraud in Biliran were an insult to the poll body and voters.
“How could that be? People from all walks of life have sacrificed their own money to the campaign and have pooled P1 million to fund the recount,” Lanigao said.
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