Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Comelec unseats Padaca, says Dy won Isabela race

By Marie Surbano and Ted Boehnert

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/20091209nat1.html

The Second Division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca to vacate her post and allow former Gov. Benjamin Dy, whom it declared as the rightful winner of gubernatorial race in 2007, to take over the province’s helm.

The poll officials said Dy garnered 1,051 votes more than the votes Padaca gained in the 2007 polls.

“Wherefore, the Commission Second Division resolves… to grant the instant petition; to annul the proclamation of protestee; and to direct the protestee to vacate the office of the provincial governor of Isabela and relinquish the same to protestant,” the commission said in its decision contained in more than 12,000 pages that documented the case and vote recount.

But the Liberal Party, which Padaca is allied with, slammed the Comelec “for allowing itself to be used by the Arroyo government for its vendetta politics against local executives who have allied themselves with the opposition.”

In a statement, LP president Sen. Mar Roxas said, “What is at stake here is the credibility of the Comelec and the 2010 elections. Why did Comelec officials allow their institution to be used by MalacaƱang for its bullying tactics against its critics?”

He further said that the electoral protest against Padaca “was suddenly revived after she allied herself with the Liberal Party. This is obviously a harassment scheme.” He recalled that the same Comelec division ruled similarly in the electoral protest lodged against incumbent Bulacan Gov. Jon-Jon Mendoza, whose local party is an affiliate of LP.

During yesterday’s promulgation held at the Comelec main office, Dy was accompanied by his relatives and a handful of supporters.

“I am glad that the Comelec saw basis of glaring violations of election fraud in Isabela as evidenced by markings on the ballots. Furthermore, thousands of ballots with the same handwritings in favor of my political opponent in several contested precincts were also presented that deprived my candidacy of the needed votes to win the 2007 elections,” Dy said in a statement.

“This is a victory not only for my family but also for the people of the Isabela who have been clamoring for real change and the fight for clean and honest elections,” added Dy.

On the other hand, Padaca expressed sadness over the Comelec’s decision but added that she was “not surprised” at all by the outcome of the vote recount.

“I just cannot understand how the second division could give more credence to the Dy petition as against our detailed petition against the Dys,” she said.

Padaca further said the second division’s decision was not yet final, dropping broad hints that she would appeal the decision.

She had maintained that she won the 2007 gubernatorial elections fair and square.

In 2004, Padaca seized the governorship by beating then Gov. Faustino Dy Jr. in a surprise landslide victory.

The Comelec second division’s resolution stated that the revisions of the votes conducted showed that Dy had a total of 199,435 votes while Padaca scored 198,384 votes, giving Dy a margin of 1,051 votes.

In the last 2007 elections, Padaca’s lead against Dy was 17,007.

Dy lodged the electoral protest, accusing Padaca of election fraud covering 13 of the 35 towns of Isabela, including its capital Ilagan.

Dy is a known ally of the Arroyo government and is the official candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD in the May 2010 polls.

Last week, the second division also ruled in favor of Roberto Pagdanganan against incumbent Gov. Joselito Mendoza in the Bulacan gubernatorial race in 2007.

In its Dec. 1 ruling, the poll body said the recount showed Pagdanganan garnered a total of 342,295 votes against Mendoza’s 337,974 votes for a 4,321-vote victory.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer, chairman of the Comelec’s second division together with Commissioners Elias Yusof and Lucenito Tagle, said the division was also set to resolve soon the electoral protest lodged by another Arroyo ally, former Pampanga board member Lilia Pineda, against incumbent Pampanga Gov. Eduardo Panlilio.

Original Story: http://www.tribune.net.ph/nation/20091209nat1.html

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