SC allows probe on alleged election fraud in Davao del Sur

February 3, 2012 10:49 pm 

MANILA, Feb. 3 – The Supreme Court (SC) has given the Commission on Elections (Comelec) the "green light" to proceed with its investigation on the alleged election fraud in the May 10, 2010 synchronized automated national and local elections in Davao del Sur province.

This was after the SC denied a petition for review filed by incumbent Davao del Sur Gov. Douglas Cagas questioning an interlocutory order issued by a division of the Comelec in relation to the election protest filed by his opponent, Claude Bautista.

In an en banc decision, the SC dismissed for lack of merit the petition of Cagas assailing the order dated Aug. 13, 2010 of the Comelec denying the affirmative defenses raised by the petitioner and the order dated Oct. 7, 2010 denying his motion for reconsideration (MR).

Bautista contested the position of Cagas in the May 10, 2010 elections.

The fast transmission of the election results led to the completion by May 14, 2010 of the canvassing of votes cast for governor, and Cagas was proclaimed winner with 163,440 votes, while Bautista had 159,527 votes.

However, alleging fraud, anomalies, irregularities, vote-buying and violations of election laws, rules and resolutions, Bautista filed an electoral protest on May 24, 2010 which was raffled off to the Comelec First Division.

The Comelec First Division issued on Aug. 13, 2010 the first assailed order denying the special affirmative defenses of Cagas.

Cagas filed his MR on the ground that the order did not discuss whether the protest specified the alleged irregularities in the conduct of the elections.

The Comelec issued on Oct. 7, 2010 its second assailed order denying the MR of Cagas for failing to show that the first order was contrary to law.

In its decision, the SC said that it "will not indulge in the presumption that nothing would go wrong, that a successful automation election unmarred by fraud, violence, and like irregularities would be the order of the moment on May 10, 2010."

"Neither will it guarantee, as it cannot guarantee, the effectiveness of the voting machines and the integrity of the counting and consolidation software embedded in them," the SC said.

On the part of the Comelec, the SC said, scrutinizing the same is "part of its mandate to ensure clean and peaceful elections."

"This independent constitutional commission, it is true, possesses extraordinary powers and enjoys a considerable latitude in the discharge of its functions," the SC said.

The SC ruling penned by Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin said that "the road, however, towards successful 2010 automation elections would certainly be rough and bumpy."

"It would accordingly need the help of all advocates of orderly and honest elections, of all men and women of goodwill, to smoothen the way and assist Comelec personnel address the fears expressed about the integrity of the system. Like anyone else, the Court would like and wish automated elections to succeed, credibly," the SC said. (PNA) scs/PTR

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