Losing mayoral bet in Pinamungajan, Cebu files election protest

Published May 29, 2022, 2:00 PM

by Calvin Cordova 

CEBU CITY – Alleging numerous irregularities, a losing mayoral candidate is questioning the outcome of the recent election in Pinamungajan, Cebu.

Mayoral candidate Salipada “Liplip” Cerna has filed an election protest before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Toledo City, Cebu where he seeks for a recount, revision of the ballots, and eventual annulment of the proclamation of Jecjec Baricuatro as the winner in the mayoral race last May 9.

“This petition hopes to prove that indeed electoral fraud has become complicated using automation as the tool to thwart the will of the people,” said Cerna in the electoral protest.

Cerna filed the protest 19 days after the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Pinamungajan proclaimed Baricuatro as the winning mayoral bet.

Baricuatro received 21,307 votes while Cerna got 19,343. Cerna is contesting all the 73 clustered precincts.

“Aside from the massive ubiquitous vote buying, harassment, and employment of high-handed tactics such as arresting the key leaders of the Protestant and depriving them of their rights to vote, the Voting Counting Machine (VCM) is being used to deprive the Municipality of Pinamungajan of the rightful Mayor to lead the municipality,” said Cerna.

He cited hundreds of alleged “misreadings” by the VCM. “They voted for Liplip Cerna but on the voter receipt, the one that appeared is Jecjec Baricuatro. They complained to the Board of Election Inspector but (were) only told that such technical problems be only recorded in the minutes of the voting,” Cerna said.

Cerna attached in his complaint 21 judicial affidavits representing different barangays attesting to the alleged misreadings done by the VCM.

He also cited that no incidence of rejected ballots happened on election day in Pinamungajan and there was no election return was recorded as rejected.

However, the Municipal Certificate of Canvass noted a total of 1,946 ballots were rejected, Cerna pointed out. “These are massive votes automatically deducted by the Voting Counting Machine on its own and would greatly affect the outcome of the elections. Speculations may surmise automated fraud. But presumably, the one who benefits from this scheme is the administration candidates,” said Cerna.

Cerna added that “the only way to uncover it is by opening the ballots thru revision.”

To determine if this has a factual basis, Cerna petitioned that the revision should proceed in an initial six barangays – Poblacion, Binabag, Tupas, Camugao, Sibago, and Anopog.

Cerna asked the court that that he be proclaimed the real winner in case the revision will get him more votes than Baricuatro.