GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 June)– Claiming that a significant number of votes were not properly counted in the last May 13 elections, losing South Cotabato first district congressional bet Rogelio “Ruel” Pacquiao is seeking a manual recount of all the votes in the area.
Rogelio, younger brother of boxing icon and reelected Sarangani Rep. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao, disclosed on Thursday that he filed an election protest against reelected Rep. Pedro Acharon Jr. after finding discrepancies in the results of the automated count generated from the recent polls.
His camp lodged the protest against Acharon before the House of Representative Electoral Tribunal (HRET) last May 27, he said.
The younger Pacquiao, incumbent chair of Barangay Apopong here, said that based on the certified final canvass report released by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in South Cotabato, around 285,000 registered voters in the province’s first congressional district were able to cast their votes last May 13.
But he said the combined votes that he and Acharon received only reached 268,456 or a difference of around 16,500 votes compared with the total number of votes cast.
Pacquiao, who ran under the People’s Champ Movement-United Nationalist Alliance (PCM-UNA) slate, garnered 130,377 votes while Acharon (Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition-Achiever’s with Integrity Movement) got 138,079 or a margin of 7,702 votes.
South Cotabato’s first congressional district covers the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi and Tampakan as well as this city.
“A significant number of votes were missing (from the tally) so I think a manual counting must be done to clarify the discrepancy,” he said.
Pacquiao noted that his camp is not blaming the Comelec for the discrepancy which, he said, could have been due to the problems with the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines.
“We don’t really know what caused that discrepancy. At the same time, we’re not also sure how the machines counted the votes,” he said.
For his part, Acharon, who is presently attending to some unfinished work at the House of Representatives, welcomed the filing of the election protest against him.
He stressed that “there was nothing irregular in the results of the recent polls in the district.”
Acharon said his camp is confident that the results of the automated count generated by the PCOS machines were accurate and reflected the actual number of votes cast for both of them.
“I’m ready to face him (Pacquiao) in any court. I’m sure the people are well aware of what really happened last May 13 in the district,” Acharon said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.
The election protest against Acharon was among the 31 that were filed before the HRET against incumbent and incoming House members following the May 13 national midterm and local elections.
It was the second case filed against a House member from Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region.
Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.
In Sultan Kudarat’s first district, losing administration bet Carlos Valdez Jr., a lawyer, earlier filed a protest against incumbent Rep. Raden Sakaluran.
Sakaluran, who ran as an independent, is the husband of reelected Lutayan, Sultan Kudarat Mayor Ruth Mangudadatu-Sakaluran and brother-in-law of reelected Gov. Suharto Mangudadatu. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)