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Pateros race under protest

The mayoral race in Pateros, Metro Manila’s smallest and only municipality, is far from over with the results being questioned. Supporters of candidate Ike Ponce staged a protest action in front of the town hall on Thursday to denounce the alleged massive cheating and vote-buying in Monday’s polls. Ponce, a lawyer, trailed Mayor Joey Medina by 602 votes. “I know personally that I won. I won’t stop until the truth comes out. I owe it to my supporters,” he said, adding that a case being finalized for filing before the municipal trial court. Ponce, of the Liberal Party, got 12,284 votes against the 12,886 votes of the last-termer Medina, a Nacionalista. Comelec records show that Pateros has 33,992 registered voters. Ponce cited statements from witnesses that Medina’s camp engaged in vote-buying and that pre-shaded ballots were distributed during election day. His camp also claimed having in possession a video footage showing one of Medina’s men taking out a Precinct-Count Optical Scan from the municipal hall shortly after voting hours was closed on Monday. At the rally, Ponce’s supporters took turns in denouncing the electoral fraud. “There were at least two PCOs machines that were not counted. About 400 voted but only 250 votes were read. All in all, at least 4,000 votes for Ponce were not counted,” one supporter said. Ponce said many PCOS machines and compact flash cards malfunctioned and yet the Board of Canvassers hastily proclaimed Medina as the winner, but based on their auditing, at least 1,000 votes were yet to be processed. “Those 1,000 votes were the deciding factor and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) chose not to account for it. Those votes should be sufficient enough to determine who is the real winner,” he said. Medina‘s counsel, Von Roque, said the protest case was expected. “That’s their prerogative. We will answer them in court. Right now, it is difficult to comment,” Roque said. He said the board proclaimed Medina after processing 100 percent of the votes on  Tuesday, at around 4 a.m.
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