TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Vice Governor and losing gubernatorial candidate James Edubba formally filed an election protest with the law department of the Commission on elections (Comelec) Friday seeking for the exclusion of the votes casted in one of the vote-rich barangays in Pinukpuk and to investigate the circumstances that casted doubt on the sanctity of the 622 votes casted in the precinct.
In his petition, Edubba questioned the decision of Comelec officials in barangay Sucbut, Pinukpuk town to confiscate the SD cards from the board of election inspectors (BEIs) and ordered them to leave the polling precinct since it might take two days to allegedly reconfigure the alleged defective SD cards.
However, he narrated that after several hours, the BEI members were called back to the municipal canvassing center only to be informed that what was defective was the vote counting machine and not the SD cards which now raised doubts on the sanctity of the ballots that were cased in the said barangays.
Based on Edubba’s petition, there were some 622 votes that were casted in the questioned precinct in barangay Sucbut where incumbent Tabuk city Mayor Ferdinand Tubban garnered 267 votes, Conrado Dieza, one of the aspirants for the gubernatorial post was able to get some 191 votes while Edubba only got 125 votes.
It was only in the said barangay that Tubban won as all the other barangays were dominated by Dieza with a convincing margin over all his rivals.
The provincial board of canvassers chaired by Provincial election Supervisor proclaimed Tubban as the winning gubernatorial candidate after he was able to garner some 39,148 votes which was 10 votes more than the 39,138 votes received by Vice governor Edubba.
Before the transmission of the results from barangay Sucbut, Edubba was leading in the province’ gobernatorial race by 122 votes but his lead was eventually overtaken by Tubban when the results of Sucbut were already included in the provincial canvass.
“We simply want the poll body to look into the circumstances that happened prior to the canvassing of the casted votes from Sucbut because there was already a cloud of doubt on the sanctity of the ballots with what happened. Why did the Comelec officials confiscate the SD cards and order the BEI members to go home because it will take two days to reconfigure the same? Why did the Comelec officials change their mind and call back the BEI members and inform them that what was defective was the vote counting machine?” Vice Governor Edubba stressed.
He also questioned why the canvassing of votes was brought to the municipal canvassing center when they could have brought to the polling precinct the replacement VCM so that the canvassing will be processed by the BEI members who watched over the conduct of the elections since the mere fact that they were ordered to go home already casts doubts on the sanctity of the casted votes in the SD card.
He underscored that he was not supposed to file the election protest but his supporters were passionate in pursuing the protest to be able to ferret out the truth considering the slim margin between the two gubernatorial candidates.