The Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) proclaimed outgoing governor Jose Ch. Alvarez the winner of the recently concluded congressional race in the 2nd District of Palawan on Wednesday morning in spite of a complaint and intervention filed by incumbent and re-election candidate Rep. Cyrille Abueg-Zaldivar with the polling body in Manila,
Alvarez, who ran under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino Lakas ng Bayan (PDPLABAN), received 99,081 votes from 215,762 actual voters (out of 260,323 registered voters) to win the 2nd District congressional race against Abueg-Zaldivar (62,210 votes gained) and four others, according to the canvass report shown to the local media by the PBOC.
When asked about the complaint, Alvarez joked, “Eh, kung gusto nila sila na lang magpa-proclaim.”
He claimed that one of his major priorities in Congress will be to enact legislation that will improve the living conditions of the poorest population of southern Palawan in the areas of employment, tourism, and agriculture, among others.
“Southern Palawan is the most deprived in terms of livelihood, tourism arrivals, so on and so forth, in all our surveys. The main reason is poverty, and hanap-buhay talaga hinahanap nila. So, my promise is to fix the road to the barangays para kung ano yong ma-produce sa barangay ay mailabas nila,” Alvarez said.
“We will make a law to address [them] not only in Palawan, but all over the Philippines na ang mga taong nakatira [sa malalayo] should be given more access to government services,” he added.
Hash code issue
Zaldivar-Abueg’s legal counsel sought a postponement of the proclamation in the 2nd District, citing an alleged irregularity in the canvassing of votes.
Abueg’s camp claimed that two canvass reports containing the election results for the 2nd district position showed different hash codes or electronic fingerprints when they were supposed to only have one, considering that they were supposed to have been printed from only one VCM.
Her lawyer, Atty. David Meregillano, told reporters that they had brought their complaint to the COMELEC en banc and that the provincial polling body should follow the rules and stop its proclamation.
“Hindi nasagot ng Provincial COMELEC ang aming question na bakit may dalawang canvass report sa isang posisyon at bakit mag dalawang hash codes dun sa nasabing report,” Atty. David Meregillano said.
Asked by reporters, however, PBOC member and secretary Atty. Maricar O. Misa-Tan said they will proceed with the proclamation as soon as the canvassing is completed.
Atty. Meregillano argued that the PBOC must await the decision of the en banc within five days before proceeding to the proclamation and any decision opposing that is a clear violation of the election rules.
“Sa rules of procedure ng COMELEC, kung meron pending appeal ay dapat hintayin muna ang decision ng en banc,” Meregillano said.