Republic of the Philippines

SET CASE No. 001-07 (PIMENTELvs. ZUBIRI)

SET CASE No. 001-07

D E C I S I O N

Per Curiam:

Assailed in the instant electoral protest is the proclamation by the Commission on Elections En Banc1 of Juan Miguel F. Zubiri (hereinafter “Zubiri”) with 11,004,099 votes as the 12th winning senatorial candidate in the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections.2 In this protest filed on 30 July 2007,3 Aquilino L. Pimentel III (hereinafter “Pimentel”) asserted that the national vote total of Zubiri was “manufactured, padded, fraudulent, altered, distorted and illegal” and that it was he, Pimentel, who should be declared the winner. In Comelec Senatorial Canvass Report No. 30 (by Rank),4 Pimentel ranked 13th with 10,984,807 votes or 19,292 votes behind Zubiri.

Pimentel contested the election results from 2,658 precincts in the following 44 municipalities in seven (7) provinces:

Maguindanao: 1,078 precincts: Ampatuan (54); Buluan (53), Datu Abdullah Sangki (42), Datu Anggal Midtimbang (26), Datu Paglas (62), Datu Piang (104), Datu Saudi Ampatuan (62), Datu Unsay (50), Gen. S.K. Pendatun (56), Guindulungan (24), Mamasapano (53), Mangudadatu (23), Pagagawan (64), Pagalungan (19 out of 57); Paglat (28); Pandag (23); Rajah Buayan (38), Shariff Aguak (141), South Upi (63), Sultan Sa Barongis (42), Talayan (31), Talitay (20)

Lanao del Norte: 496 precincts: Sultan Naga Dimaporo (147), Salvador (89), Tangcal (34), Poona Piagapo (62), Munai (69), Matungao (40), Nunungan (55)

Shariff Kabunsuan: 291 precincts: Datu Blah Sinsuat (42), Kabuntalan (51), Sultan Kudarat (198)

Basilan: 134 precincts: Tipo Tipo (46) and Lantawan (88)

Sultan Kudarat: 282 precincts: Palimbang (149) and Lutayan (133)

Lanao del Sur: 161 precincts: Picong (29), Calanogas (25), Madalum (41), Tamparan (66)

Sulu: 216 precincts: Tapul (31), Luuk (128), Kalingalan Caluang (57) and Patikul5

On 02 August 2007, the Executive Committee of the Tribunal issued Resolution No. 07-01, directing the issuance of summons to Zubiri, requiring him to file his Answer to the Protest within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of the summons.6 On 13 August 2007, Zubiri filed his Answer [Ad Cautelam] (with Special Affirmative Defenses, Counter Protest and Petition for a Preliminary Hearing on the Affirmative Defenses). By way of counter protest, Zubiri assailed the election results in 73,265 precincts, including the 2,658 precincts subject of Pimentel’s protest. The counter-protested areas were:

NCR: 25,648 Precincts: Caloocan City (2,986), Las Piñas City (1,644), Makati City (1,837), Malabon City (824), Mandaluyong City (944), Manila (4,903), Marikina City (1,016), Muntinlupa City (1,096), Navotas City (613), Parañaque City (1,219), Pasay City (1,313), Pasig City (1,709), Pateros (179), Quezon City (5,049), San Juan City (316)

Batangas: 5,824 Precincts: Agoncillo (100), Alitagtag (78), Balayan (189), Balete (53), Batangas City (739), Bauan (210), Calaca (190), Calatagan (130), Cuenca (85), Ibaan (135), Laurel (82), Lemery (219), Lian (127), Lipa City (591), Lobo (102), Mabini (118), Malvar (106), Mataas na Kahoy (74), Nasugbu (237), Padre Garcia (102), Rosario (241), San Jose (161), San Juan (220), San Luis (96), San Nicolas (64), San Pascual (148), Sta. Teresita (50), Sto.Tomas (281) Taal (142), Talisay (103), Tanauan City (391), Taysan (99), Tingloy (45), Tuy (116)

Bulacan: 5,308 Precincts: Angat (153), Balagtas (181), Baliuag (329), Bocaue (301), Bulacan (188), Bustos (154), Calumpit (241), Doňa Remedios Trinidad (59), Guiginto (223), Hagonoy (367), Malolos City (514), Marilao (363), Meycauayan (585), Norzagaray (258), Obando (154), Pandi (179), Paombong (132), Plaridel (226), Pulilan (216), San Ildefonso (250), San Jose del Monte (994), San Miguel (402), San Rafael (222), Santa Maria (398)

Cagayan: 2,556 Precincts: Abulug (70), Alacapan (82), Alcala (73), Amulung (102), Aparri (133), Baggao (139), Ballesteros (73), Buguey (69), Calayan (40), Camalaniugan (66), Claveria (86), Enrile (87), Gattaran (115), Gonzaga (84), Iguig (59), Lal-lo (100), Lasam (93), Pamplona (60), Peňablanca (90), Piat (57), Rizal (51), Sanchez Mira (60), Solana (150), Sta. Ana (62), Sta. Praxedes (17), Sta. Teresita (40), Sto. Niňo (63), Tuao (125), Tuguegarao (310)

Camarines Norte: 1,091 Precincts: Basud (87), Capalonga (61), Daet (195), Jose Panganiban (103), Labo (163), Mercedes (101), Paracale (90), San Lorenzo Ruiz (30), San Vicente (29), Sta. Elena (85), Talisay (59), Vinzons (88)

Cavite: 6,691 Precincts: Alfonso (133), Amadeo (91), Bacoor (1,104), Carmona (147), Cavite City (324), Dasmariňas (1,200), Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (54), Gen. Mariano Alvarez (258), Gen. Trias (415), Imus (656), Indang (168), Kawit (200), Magallanes (56), Maragondon (91), Mendez-Nuňez (82), Naic (229), Noveleta (95), Rosario (259), Silang (395), Tagaytay (145), Tanza (359), Ternate (66), Trece Martires (164)

Cebu: 196 Precincts: Bogo City (196)

Ilocos Norte: 1,571 Precincts: Adams (5), Bacarra (80), Badoc (81), Bangui (46), Banna (Espiritu) (62), Batac (123), Burgos (25), Carasi

(5), Currimao (39), Dingras (105), Dumalneg (5), Laoag (293), Marcos (49), Nueva Era (24), Pagudpud (62), Paoay (62), Pasuquin (74), Piddig (57), Pinili (45), San Nicolas (95), Sarrat (73), Solsona (62), Vintar (94)

Laguna: 6,187 Precincts: Alaminos (101), Bay (141), Biňan (517), Cabuyao (455), Calamba (842), Calauan (118), Cavinti (73), Famy (48), Kalayaan (56), Liliw (92), Los Baňos (250), Luisiana (58), Lumban (87), Mabitac (64), Magdalena (64), Majayjay (76), Nagcarlan (153), Paete (87), Pagsanjan (95), Pakil (58), Pangil (64), Pila (112), Rizal (47), San Pablo City (615), San Pedro (726), Siniloan (85), Sta. Cruz (251), Sta. Maria (87), Sta. Rosa City (686), Victoria (86)

Nueva Ecija: 5,387 Precincts: Aliaga (155), Bongabon (152), Cabanatuan City (868), Cabiao (184), Carranglan (93), Cuyapo (169), Gabaldon (75), Gapan City (312), Gen. Mamerto Natividad (86), Gen. Tinio (125), Guimba (278), Jaen (178), Laur (90), Licab (59), Llanera (91), Lupao (97), Nampicuan (38), Palayan City (112), Pantabangan (109), Peňaranda (109), Quezon (90), Rizal (125), San Antonio (194), San Isidro (116), San Jose City (361), San Leonardo (178), Santa Rosa (148), Science City of Muňoz (228), Sto. Domingo (143), Talavera (286), Talugtug (60), Zaragoza (100)

Palawan: 2,223 Precincts: Aborlan (77), Agutaya (24), Araceli (29), Balabac (83), Bataraza (127), Brooke’s Point (119), Busuanga (48), Cagayancillo (21), Coron (96), Cullion (41), Cuyo (57), Dumaran (48), El Nido (74), Kalayaan (1), Linapacan (30), Magsaysay (30), Narra (129), Puerto Princesa (572), Quezon (103), Rizal (85), Roxas (144), San Vicente (70), Sofronio Espaňol (63), Taytay (152)

Quezon: 4,296 Precincts: Agdangan (35), Alabat (38), Atimonan (139), Buenavista (59), Burdeos (48), Calauag (152), Candelaria (215), Catanauan (159), Dolores (72), Gen. Luna (55), Gen. Nakar (69), Guinayangan (93), Gumaca (153), Infanta (129), Jomalig (15), Lopez (199), Lucban (101), Lucena (391), Macalelon (63), Mauban (148), Mulanay (125), Padre Burgos (55), Pagbilao (139), Panukulan (34), Patnanungan (24), Perez (32), Pitogo (64), Plaridel (72), Polilio (40), Quezon (77), Real (40), Sampaloc (65), San Andres (78), San Antonio (139), San Francisco (139), San Narciso (247), Sariaya (247); Tagkawayan (118), Tayabas (201), Tiaong (202), Unisan (73)

Zamboanga City: 1,848 Precincts

After issues had been joined with the filing by Pimentel of a Reply to Answer and Answer to Counter Protest7 and the filing by Zubiri of a Reply (to

Protestant’s Answer to the Counter Protest)8, and the Motion to Dismiss and/or to Suspend Proceedings filed by Zubiri had been denied by the Tribunal,9 the parties were called to a preliminary conference.10

At the preliminary conference held at the Supreme Court En Banc Session Hall on 15 November 2007, the parties disclosed the following votes obtained by them in the areas, the Certificates of Canvass (COCs) of which were canvassed by the Comelec-NBC subsequent to Zubiri’s proclamation, which reduced Zubiri’s lead of 19,292 votes over Pimentel to 18,519 votes:

Municipality/Province

No. of Precincts

Pimentel

Zubiri

Bacolod, Lanao del Norte

3

5

255

Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte

3

2

518

Maigo, Lanao del Norte

3

98

58

Pantar, Lanao del Norte

46

2,435

936

Total

55

2,540

1,767

 

The parties likewise designated their pilot precincts. Pimentel enumerated 664 precincts, equivalent to 25% of the 2,658 total protested precincts, while Zubiri listed 18,316 precincts, also equivalent to 25% of the 73,265 counter-protested precincts.

Collection of the ballot boxes, election documents and paraphernalia from Pimentel’s contested areas which were also counter-protested by Zubiri, was undertaken by eight teams from 12 to 23 November 2007. The revision proceedings conducted by twenty-five (25) revision teams from 08 to 21 January 2008 covered all the contested precincts of Pimentel, but only the results from his

pilot areas were considered in determining the merit of his protest. Reception of his evidence on the pilot areas was held on 12, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26 and 27 February, 03 and 05 March 2008, while the reception of Zubiri’s evidence was held on 08, 14, 17 and 21 April 2008.

On 17 June 2008, the Tribunal issued Resolution No. 07-27, ordering the continuation of the proceedings in the instant electoral protest case. The Hearing Commissioner was directed to call the parties to a conference not later than 23 June 2008 to set the dates for the reception of the parties’ evidence on the remaining 75% contested precincts of Pimentel as well as the re-tabulation of the pertinent election documents from the Municipality of Patikul, Sulu. The Canvass Board Service was directed to undertake the necessary preparations for the collection of the ballot boxes, election documents and paraphernalia from the pilot areas of Zubiri.

As directed, the Correction of Manifest Error or re-tabulation of the Election Documents from the Municipality of Patikul, Sulu was undertaken on 30 June 2008 by a Correction Team. Reception of the parties’ evidence on the remaining 75% contested precincts was held on 20, 27 and 28 August and 1, 3 and 4 September 2008.

Preparatory activities in the Counter Protest were also undertaken. Collection of ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia from the 18,512 pilot counter-protested precincts of Zubiri’s was conducted on different dates from 16 September 2008 to 16 April 2009. Revision proceedings

covering the pilot counter-contested areas was conducted by sixty (60) teams from 04 November 2008 to 14 May 2009. Reception of the parties’ evidence on

the pilot counter-protested areas started on 08 January 2009, but was suspended starting 20 February 2009, pending resolution by the Supreme Court of a petition for certiorari instituted by Zubiri. It resumed on 10 June 2009, after the Supreme Court considered the petition closed and terminated for being moot and academic. Reception of Zubiri’s evidence on the first batch of collected precincts was completed on 09 October 2009.

Following the revision of the second batch of ballot boxes, the Tribunal, upon motion, granted Zubiri an additional fifty-two (52) days to present his documentary and testimonial evidence starting 11 January 2010. Reception of Zubiri’s additional evidence actually started on 14 January 2010 and was thereafter held every day for a total of 54 hearing days. Finally, on 19 February 2010, Zubiri filed his Formal Offer of Evidence. This was followed by the filing of Pimentel of his Formal Offer of Evidence on 14 April 2010. Both parties submitted their Memoranda on 17 May 2010.

On 04 June 2010, the Tribunal issued Resolution No. 07-105, finding a prima facie valid cause to pursue further proceedings on the remaining 52,380 protested precincts in the Counter Protest.11 Accordingly, the Tribunal directed the SET Canvass Board Service to undertake the collection of ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia from the remaining 75% counter-protested precincts, and the Hearing Commissioner to call the parties to a

conference to set the dates of the revision proceedings as well as the reception of the parties’ evidence on the remaining 75% counter-protested precincts. Collection of ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia was again undertaken starting 18 October 2010. Revision proceedings re-commenced on 08 February 2011 with eighty (80) teams.

On 18 July 2011, counsel for Zubiri filed an Extremely Urgent Manifestation, stating that he was ordered by Zubiri to instruct his revisors not to report for the scheduled revision proceedings for an indefinite period of time starting 19 July 2011. Whereupon, on 26 July 2011, Pimentel filed an Urgent Motion 1) To Dismiss the Zubiri Counter Protest and 2) To Immediately Proclaim Protestant Pimentel as Senator of the Land. Acting on Pimentel’s motion, the Executive Committee issued Resolution No. 07-141,12 requiring Zubiri to comment on the said motion within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from receipt of the resolution.

In a letter dated 03 August 2011, received by the Tribunal Secretariat in the morning of 04 August 2011, the Senate of the Philippines informed the Tribunal that “in the plenary session of even date, Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri, in a question of personal and collective privilege, submitted his resignation as Senator of the Republic.” Shortly thereafter, in the early afternoon of the same day, counsel for Zubiri filed a Manifestation and Motion, praying that the resignation of Zubiri be considered as a voluntary withdrawal and/or

abandonment of his counter protest, and that an order be issued considering the Counter Protest as effectively withdrawn and terminated.

We GRANT the motion of Zubiri. The Counter Protest is hereby considered withdrawn and terminated. We now proceed to consider the Protest of Pimentel.

The Tribunal examined and appreciated a total of 384,680 ballots from Pimentel’s protested precincts, including the eighteen (18) ballots from the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan13 and the ballots labeled “marked”, “excess” or “spoiled” by the Boards of Election Inspectors, which were claimed by the parties. As the sole judge of all contests relating to the elections, returns and qualifications of members of the Senate, mandated to determine the true will of the electorate, the Tribunal did not confine itself to the ballots objected to or claimed by the parties, but examined and appreciated all the ballots found in the ballot boxes.

GENUINENESS OF THE BALLOTS AND ELECTION RETURNS

In ascertaining the genuineness of the ballots, the Tribunal was guided by the presence or absence of the security features placed on the ballots by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the National Printing Office (NPO), as disclosed by Director Estrella de Mesa, Deputy Executive Director for Administration and Vice-Chairman, Committee on Printing on Accountable Forms, Comelec; Mr. Henry Young, Sales Representative, LAMCO Paper

Products Co., Inc.,14 Engr. Teofilo Ferrer, Consultant to the Comelec Printing Committee; and Mr. Miguel Arcadio, Division Chief, Press Division, NPO, during their testimony before the Hearing Commissioner.15

At the time of production or milling, four security features were embedded in the ballot paper used in the 14 May 2007 elections, as follows:

Watermarks, as designed by Engr. Ferrer, consisting of the scales of justice with a quill across the scale and the word “COMELEC” arranged diagonally on the paper. They become visible to the naked eye when the ballots are placed against the light. As they were placed randomly in the ballot paper, which uncut, measured 26” x 36”, they could appear either in full, cut in half or even in ¼ size anywhere in a particular ballot, depending on the cutting of the ballot paper. It would therefore be impossible that hundreds or even thousands of ballots would bear the watermarks in the same spots.

Dark ultraviolet spots that appear at random when the ballot is exposed to sunlight or ultra-violet light.

After-glow spots that appear in the dark after the paper had been exposed to a fluorescent light.

Chemical or solvent sensitive features similar to those found on a Clearing Board Specifications Security paper used in the production of bank checks. The ballot paper was bleach and acetone reactant, i.e., when treated with bleach, it would produce a yellowish or brownish stain and when treated with acetone, a bluish indicator would appear thereon. These reactions would not be found in ordinary paper. The chemicals were incorporated into the raw material of the paper, the pulp, during milling.

An extrinsic security feature was placed by the NPO, consisting of the microprint of the continuous phrase:

“NATIONALANDLOCALELECTIONSON14MAY,2007”

on the line for party list, which is visible thru a microscope or a magnifying glass. To the naked eye, it appears as a perforated line for party list. Additionally, the printed names of the municipality and province as well as the ballot code number, having been done by another machine through the letterpress process, may have rough surfaces. The coat of arms of the Philippines, including the three stars on top, appears clearly and distinctly on the ballot.

The size of the English ballots (no Arabic translation) for Luzon and Visayas is 8½ inches by 12 inches, while the Arabic ballots for Mindanao measure 8 ½ inches by 14 inches. The ballots are whitish in color and thicker than ordinary paper.

Per testimony of Dir. De Mesa, the election returns (ERs) were carbonless with the serial number printed in the middle, unlike the ERs used in the past elections where the serial number was found on the right side.16

After a careful examination and scrutiny of the ballots from Pimentel’s protested precincts, the Tribunal rejected 254,222 ballots for being spurious (SB). This number is equivalent to 80.74% of all rejected ballots.

The ballots rejected for being spurious did not bear the security marks and features of genuine ballots. These spurious ballots were made of poor quality paper, differed in color from and were shorter in size than the genuine ballots. The watermarks in these spurious ballots were found in exactly the same spots in the ballots, either lower left and upper right, or lower right and upper left portions

of the ballots, and were yellowish in color. Obviously produced with the use of penetrating ink, instead of being embedded in the ballot, the watermarks were plainly visible at first glance. They also did not have the word “COMELEC” near them.

The microprints of these spurious ballots were unreadable and the coats of arms were blurred. The printed names of the municipality and province as well as the ballot code numbers were smooth to the touch.

GROUPS OF BALLOTS PREPARED BY ONE PERSON (WBO)/

A BALLOT PREPARED BY TWO OR MORE PERSONS (WBT)/

COMBINATION OF WBO AND WBT

It was likewise quite evident to the Tribunal how the spurious ballots were accomplished. Groups or batches of ballots were prepared by only one person, as shown by the same style and stroke of handwriting appearing on a number of ballots, or a ballot was filled up by two or more persons, one person usually writing the names of the candidates voted for national positions and another writing the names of the candidates chosen for the local positions. In some instances, a third person writes the name of the voted party for the party list. It was therefore not unusual for a ballot to exhibit two or more sets of handwriting and to find one of the sets of handwriting on yet another ballot.

Regrettably, the same manner of ballot preparation, i.e. groups or batches of ballots being accomplished by only one person, or one ballot being prepared by two or more persons, was also observed in genuine ballots.

The Omnibus Election Code of the Philippines17 provides for the manner of preparing the ballot, thus:

Sec. 195. Manner of preparing the ballot.- The voter, upon receiving his folded ballot, shall forthwith proceed to one of the empty voting booths and shall there fill his ballot by writing in the proper space for each office the name of the individual candidate for whom he desires to vote.

Consequently, a person who commits any of the following prohibited acts is considered to be guilty of an election offense:

Sec. 261. Prohibited Acts.- The following shall be guilty of an election offense:

x x x x x x x x x

(z) On voting:

x x x x x x x x x

(2) Any voter who votes more than once in the same election, or who, not being a registered voter, votes in an election.

(3) Any person who votes in substitution for another whether with or without the latter’s knowledge and/or consent.

(4) Any person who, not being illiterate or physically disabled, allows his ballot to be prepared by another, or any person who prepares the ballot of another who is not illiterate or physically disabled, with or without the latter’s knowledge and/or consent.

x x x x x x x x x

(6) Any voter who, in the course of voting, uses a ballot other than the one given by the board of election inspectors or has in his possession more than one official ballot.

The only exception to the rule requiring a voter to prepare his own ballot refers to illiterate and disabled persons, as follows:

“Sec. 196. Preparation of ballots for illiterate and disabled persons.- A voter who is illiterate or physically unable to prepare the ballot by himself may be assisted in the preparation of his ballot by a relative by affinity or consanguinity within the fourth civil degree, or if he has none, by any person of his confidence who belong to the same household or any member of the board of election inspectors, except the two party members: Provided, That no voter shall be allowed to vote as illiterate or physically disabled unless it is so indicated in his registration record: Provided, further, That in no case shall an assistor assist more than three times except the non-party members of the board of election inspectors. The person thus chosen shall prepare the ballot for the illiterate or disabled voter inside the voting booth. The person assisting shall bind himself in a formal document under oath to fill out the ballot strictly in accordance with the instructions of the voter and not to reveal the contents of the ballot prepared by him. Violation of this provision shall constitute an election offense.

In the electoral precincts where the ballots showing the same handwriting were found, the Minutes of Voting and Counting of Votes were examined and it was determined that 1,306 ballots were validly prepared by assistors. These ballots were admitted by the Tribunal. The rest of the batches or groups of genuine ballots exhibiting the same handwriting, having been prepared contrary to law, were rejected.

Section 211 (23) of the Omnibus Election Code also provides that “(A)ny ballot which clearly appears to have been filled by two distinct persons before it was deposited in the ballot box during the voting is totally null and void.” Thus, genuine ballots containing two or more sets of different handwritings were also rejected by the Tribunal.

MARKED BALLOTS (MB)

Further rejected by the Tribunal were ballots containing unnecessary markings which identified the voters or which were obviously intended to identify

the ballots. Ballots with x’s, crosses, lines or other markings or erasures indicating desistance or change of chosen candidates, titles, nicknames and appellations of affection and friendship, words of endearments, or personal descriptions of the candidates were admitted in accordance with the rules for the appreciation of ballots under Section 211 of the Omnibus Election Code.

OTHER REJECTED BALLOTS

Needless to say, genuine ballots belonging to sets of ballots bearing the same handwriting and at the same time showing a second set of handwriting or unnecessary markings were rejected by the Tribunal.

In sum, the total number of ballots rejected for being spurious, for belonging to batches or groups of ballots written by one person, for being written by two or more persons or for being marked or for a combination thereof, are as follows:

Province

City/

Mun.

TRB

SB

WBO

WBT

MB

WBO

WBT

WBO

MB

WBT

MB

WBO

WBT

MB

Sp

Ex

Basilan

Lantawan

2247

0

1955

246

22

9

13

2

0

0

0

Tipo-Tipo

616

0

531

78

6

0

0

1

0

0

0

Lanao del Norte

Matungao

829

32

694

62

24

9

4

0

0

4

0

Munai

6186

6075

102

1

6

0

0

0

0

2

0

Nunungan

7162

7152

7

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

Poona

Piagapo

7661

7510

126

22

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

Salvador

17088

16994

90

1

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

Sultan

Naga

Dimaporo

25586

25496

64

23

1

0

2

0

0

0

0

Tangcal

907

0

831

58

11

2

3

1

0

1

0

Lanao del Sur

Calanogas

522

0

230

119

149

5

13

4

1

1

0

Madalum

3794

782

2059

797

60

20

26

17

0

33

0

Picong

5177

0

3240

1575

44

52

167

72

27

0

0

Tamparan

9222

8725

166

321

3

3

0

4

0

0

0

Maguin-danao

Ampatuan

10310

10170

6

125

0

9

0

0

0

0

0

Buluan

9829

9826

2

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Datu

Abdullah

Sangki

8026

7932

80

14

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Datu Paglas

10220

6693

2656

788

25

1

5

52

0

0

0

Datu Piang

18157

18116

39

1

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Datu Saudi

Ampatuan

11238

11237

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

Datu

Unsay

10045

10021

23

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Gen.. S. K. Pendatun

10666

10428

228

5

2

0

2

0

0

1

0

Guindu-lungan

4908

4907

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Kabuntalan

519

0

411

69

23

8

4

4

0

0

0

Mamasapano

10447

8067

1737

494

26

123

0

0

0

0

0

Mangudadatu

2959

2860

98

1

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Midtimbang

5138

4209

611

283

35

0

0

0

0

0

0

Pagagawan

9466

9344

99

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

23

Pagalungan

2340

1682

650

2

0

6

0

0

0

0

0

Paglat

4537

4537

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Pandag

3074

1844

1066

164

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Rajah

Buayan

6639

6636

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

3

0

Shariff

Aguak

26839

25710

284

842

0

0

0

3

0

0

0

South Upi

9483

9482

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

Sultan Sa Barongis

8493

8403

82

5

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

Talayan

6404

5236

695

467

0

3

0

3

0

0

0

Talitay

4108

4108

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

Shariff

Kabun-suan

Datu Blah Sinsuat

1041

0

977

22

12

3

26

1

0

0

0

Sultan Kudarat

18

7

8

2

0

1

0

0

0

0

0

Sultan Kudarat

Lutayan

7586

0

7117

291

65

5

74

9

2

23

0

Palimbang

1558

0

1308

172

59

1

17

0

0

1

0

Sulu

Kalingalan Caluang

5371

0

3100

1946

221

8

64

31

0

1

0

Luuk

14673

0

12691

1852

77

9

38

6

0

0

0

Tapul

3780

1

3526

40

0

189

24

0

0

0

0

Totals

314869

254222

47589

10892

875

466

485

210

30

76

24

100%

80.74%

15.11%

3.46%

.27%

.14%

.15%

.06%

.01%

.02%

.007%

 

CLAIMED VOTES

Forty-eight (48) votes claimed by Pimentel were admitted either under the idem sonams rule or the intent rule. These include such names as “Pimiente,” “coco de mendel,” “Pimenter,” “Pimentar,” “Fermenter,” “Pimenten,” “Pamentel,” “koko,” “Pimentet,” “Pamentir,” “Pimmtel” “Fermentel” and “Rimentel.” Similarly, seventy-seven (77) votes claimed by Zubiri were admitted under the idem sonans rule or the intent rule. These include such names as “Zubili,” “Sobere,” “Sabiri,” Migsbiri,” “Migz zubir,” “Subiri,” “Suviry,” “Joribey,” “Met Shubiri,” “Mitsubiri,” “Mitsubirey,” “Jobiri,” “Subira,” “Micz Zabiri,” Migs Soberi” and “Migz Zabiri.

The admission/rejection of the ballots from Pimentel’s contested areas after appreciation by the Tribunal resulted in the addition/deduction of the following number of votes from the parties:

Province

City/Municipality

Number of Ballots

Uncon-tested Ballots

Admitted Contested Ballots

Rejected Contested Ballots

Votes Added/

Deducted

Pimentel

Votes Added/

Deducted

Zubiri

Basilan

LANTAWAN

13679

9832

1600

2247

-582

-1577

TIPO-TIPO

5478

4467

395

616

-244

-390

Lanao del Norte

MATUNGAO

6250

4507

914

829

-245

-591

MUNAI

6552

337

29

6186

-912

-3813

NUNUNGAN

7310

139

9

7162

-480

-3490

POONA PIAGAPO

7735

63

11

7661

-533

-5833

SALVADOR

17088

0

0

17088

-335

-15725

SULTAN NAGA DIMAPORO

25586

0

0

25586

-82

-24195

TANGCAL

3924

2763

254

907

-54

-709

Lanao del Sur

CALANOGAS

2211

1656

33

522

-92

-319

MADALUM

4854

862

198

3794

-429

-3229

PICONG

5566

297

92

5177

-96

-5126

TAMPARAN

9323

80

21

9222

-1133

-8888

Maguindanao

AMPATUAN

10310

0

0

10310

-1174

-9881

BULUAN

9829

0

0

9829

-289

-9510

DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI

8161

134

1

8026

-1288

-7941

DATU PAGLAS

10641

416

5

10220

-1767

-9910

DATU PIANG

18400

242

1

18157

-4261

-17750

DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN

11255

17

0

11238

-1937

-11073

DATU UNSAY

10053

8

0

10045

-1939

-9915

GEN. S. K. PENDATUN

10953

278

9

10666

-2764

-10414

GUINDULUNGAN

4908

0

0

4908

-1156

-4589

KABUNTALAN

6639

5741

379

519

-234

-271

MAMASAPANO

10575

88

40

10447

-2102

-9705

MANGUDADATU

2963

4

0

2959

-2346

-2811

MIDTIMBANG

5205

63

4

5138

-4563

-4991

PAGAGAWAN

9546

80

0

9466

-3179

-9417

PAGALUNGAN

2468

34

94

2340

-1571

-2080

PAGLAT

4537

0

0

4537

-625

-4374

PANDAG

3082

7

1

3074

-2084

-2956

RAJAH BUAYAN

6715

75

1

6639

-1744

-6094

SHARIFF AGUAK

26847

7

1

26839

-9405

-25678

SOUTH UPI

9579

95

1

9483

-7725

-8962

SULTAN SA BARONGIS

8612

119

0

8493

-1646

-7779

TALAYAN

6459

39

16

6404

-6035

-6265

TALITAY

4118

10

0

4108

-1579

-4011

Shariff

Kabunsuan

DATU BLAH SINSUAT

7066

5633

392

1041

-419

-566

SULTAN KUDARAT

18

0

0

18

-1

-11

Sultan Kudarat

LUTAYAN

10927

2447

894

7586

-1273

-6397

PALIMBANG

12783

8787

2438

1558

-831

-681

Sulu

KALINGALAN CALUANG

8688

3237

80

5371

-181

-3589

LUUK

22519

7541

305

14673

-240

-14038

TAPUL

5268

1434

54

3780

-107

-3680

TOTALS

384680

61539

8272

314869

-69682

-289224

 

Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan

The Project of Precincts for the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan18 listed 217 established precincts which had been merged/clustered into 198 precincts in the 14 May 2007 elections. The Statistical Data Report19 showed that 39,100 out of 39,325 registered voters actually voted, or a record voter turn-out of 99.43%. All 198 precincts were designated pilot precincts by Pimentel.

The Municipal Certificate of Canvass (MCOC) of the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat20 reported a vote total of 2,791 for Pimentel and a vote total of 33,888 for Zubiri. In his Formal Offer of Exhibits, Pimentel pointed out that the entries in the MCOC and its accompanying documents, SSOV and SOVP, were all typewritten. For him, this was proof that these documents were accomplished not in an actual open-to-the-public canvassing of election returns as required by law, but in a “closed-door office setting” with a large typewriter on top of a table surrounded by a select group of election operators.21

It is quite unfortunate that retrieval of the ballot boxes from the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat proved futile in determining the true and correct number of votes of the parties. When opened during the revision proceedings, all but one (1) ballot box were found to be empty. There were no ballots, election returns, tally boards and minutes of voting and counting.

The lone ballot box with contents from Precinct 64D/64E had eighteen (18) ballots. Ten (10) ballots carried votes for Zubiri and one (1) had votes for both parties. Pimentel objected to the ten (10) ballots with votes for Zubiri while the latter did not object to any ballot.

Upon examination of the contested ballots, the Tribunal ruled to reject the same. Exhs. P1-P7 were obviously written by one person only, with Exh. P1 further exhibiting a second handwriting. Exhs. P8 and P9 showed the same handwriting, while Exh. P10 was accomplished by two persons. The handwriting

on the senatorial slots differed from that on the local positions. The uncontested ballot bearing votes for the parties was likewise rejected for being written by two persons. The other uncontested ballots were found to be spurious. Thus, all 18 ballots were rejected by the Tribunal.

To prove the number of votes obtained by the parties, Zubiri submitted certified photocopies of the ERs from the 198 precincts, which were on file with the Comelec. Pimentel objected to the admissibility of the said election documents on the following grounds:

The signature on each certification was not identified by the person who made it;

The photocopied ERs were not properly identified by the legal custodian of the originals from which these copies were made;

The photocopied ERs were not compared in the presence of the SET Hearing Officer to the originals allegedly in the custody of the Comelec;

The photocopies of the ERs already show glaring alterations and discrepancies, which have remained unexplained, to wit:

There are superimpositions of figures and words, and erasures (obviously made with correction fluid) in the votes obtained in words and figures and in the actual number of tallies (“taras”) of the parties herein;

There are additional tallies (“taras”) given to Protestee Zubiri even after his tallies had been “closed” with initials (although this way of closing tallies is not in full compliance with the instructions on how to fill up the ERs which requires the imprints of the right thumb marks too);

There are discrepancies between the total votes obtained in the words and figures for Protestee Zubiri and the actual number of his tallies (“taras”);

The photocopied ERs already obviously show that these have been accomplished by more than one person given the discrepancies in the signatures/initials, the style of tallying and the alignment of the tallies, as well as in the pen used or pen pressure employed;

There are discrepancies in the Data on Voters and Ballots where the “Number of Voters who Actually Voted” exceeded the “Number of Voters Registered in the Precinct” and the ”Ballots Found in the Compartment for Valid Ballots” exceeded the “Number of Voters who Actually Voted” or the “Number of Voters Registered in the Precinct”;

Some photocopied ERs do not bear the names or signatures or thumb marks of the Members of the Board of Election Inspectors who were required by law to identify themselves therein and sign and thumb mark the same;

In some photocopied ERs the total votes of candidates in words and figures exceeded the “Number of Voters who Actually Voted” or the “Number of Voters Registered in the Precinct”;

The data in some of the photocopied ERs, including the alleged number of votes obtained by Protestee Zubiri, are statistically improbable, even mathematically impossible in others;

Since these alterations and discrepancies have not been explained or accounted for by the Protestee (who did not call witnesses, not even a single one, to testify on these documents) the ERs of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan are INADMISSIBLE under Section 31 of Rule 132.22

Pimentel also presented as his witness Fr. Eduardo Tanod-Tanud, OMI, President of Notre Dame University, Cotabato City, who was Chairperson of the NAMFREL Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan during the 2007 elections. He testified that their principal task was to facilitate the Operation Quick Count, for which purpose, their volunteers were supposed to get the sixth (6th) copy of the ER after the canvassing at the precinct level, submit the same to the NAMFREL head office at the Notre Dame University, tabulate them immediately and send the tabulation to the National NAMFREL.

However, during the 2007 elections, for the first time since 1986, NAMFREL Maguindanao did not receive a single copy of the ERs because the counting of the ballots was centralized in Shariff Aguak Provincial Capitol and per

report received from the NAMFREL representatives, they were barred from entering the venue. They also reported that the municipal election officers issued verbal orders to withhold release of all copies of the ER, including the 6th copy for NAMFREL. He said that the matter was reported to NAMFREL National, which in turn reported it to Comelec. Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento ordered the release of the ERs but there was no action from the local areas and there was no written order, only a press statement. He further stated that NAMFREL Shariff Kabunsuan was also not able to secure any copy of the ERs from the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, but was able to collect from the Municipalities of Datu Odin Sinsuat, Upi, Parang, Buldon, Matanog and Northern Kabuntalan.23

We confirm Pimentel’s observations. Indeed, the alterations were quite evident even in the photocopies24 submitted as evidence by Zubiri. One hundred fifty six (156) ERs contained a second tally of votes for Zubiri and ten (10) contained second tallies of votes for both parties, for a total of 166 or 83.83% of the ERs. In eleven (11) ERs, the number of votes recorded for Zubiri in the column “total votes obtained” (TVO) was simply changed to a higher number without a second tally of votes being drawn to support such higher totals.

On the other hand, Pimentel’s tallies of votes were erased in fifteen (15) ERs and in twelve (12), lower totals than the tallies of votes were posted in the TVO. It is worth mentioning, though, that in three (3) other ERs,25 higher totals than the tallies of votes were entered.

There was an attempt to explain the alterations/corrections. In fifty-eight (58) MOVs, an explosion or commotion was reported, which allegedly caused the ERs and other documents to become dirty or untidy. But such explanation is an affront to one’s intelligence considering that:

The ERs did not have smudges, ink spills, mud or even footprints that should logically be found as a result of the scenario being presented. Instead, the untidiness consisted of deliberate corrections to entries.

The reported time of explosion varied from as early as 8:00 P.M. to late 11:00 P.M;

Some MOV’s reported bomb explosions, while others reported gunshots;

Eighteen (18) MOVs reported a totally different scenario of the election from voting to end of counting having been “smooth and peaceful“; and,

Section “C. Incidents/Irregularities” in fifty nine (59) MOVs were blank; while the word “NONE” was entered in the same section in sixteen (16) MOVs.

More importantly, the incident reports were obviously accomplished in pair or in group by the same person as particular handwriting styles and strokes could

be found in two or more MOVs. One of these persons is obviously unfamiliar with the word “erasures” as this word was consistently misspelled in many MOVs. Also, some MOVs contained almost the same incident reports. Examples are the reports from Precincts 35A, 37A and 39A, which read as follows:

Precinct 35A

Precinct 37A

Precinct 39A

Started 7:00 AM

We started the voting peacefully with the presence of the Watcher from the different parties. As a whole the voting was peaceful done. We closed at 3:00 pm. No voter were late but election retur (sic) is dirty and quickly done because of the explosion in front of the municipal hall while we were counting

Started 7:00 AM

We started the voting peacefully with the presence of the Watchers from the different parties. Voting is peaceful for the day. We closed at 3:00 p.m. No voter were late.

Our Election Return is dirty and quickly done because of the explosion in front of the municipal hall while counting.

Started 7:00 AM

Started the voting peacefully with the presence of the watcher from the different parties. Voting is very peaceful the whole day. We closed at 3:00 o’clock PM. No voters late, Merienda and Lunch was served to the BEI on time.

Our Election returns is dirty and quickly done because of the explosion on the front of the Municipal hall while counting

 

Notwithstanding these findings, the Tribunal is under solemn obligation to faithfully perform its constitutional mandate of giving expression to the true will of the electorate. Granting the prayer of Pimentel that the results from the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat be annulled and both parties be credited with zero votes would spare the Tribunal from tedious work, but with a heavy consequence – the disenfranchisement of many innocent voters. As expressed by the Supreme Court in its relatively recent decision in Tolentino vs. COMELEC,26

“Indeed, this Court is loathe to annul elections and will only do so when it is ‘impossible to distinguish what votes are lawful and what are unlawful, or to arrive at any certain result whatever, or that the great body of the voters have been prevented by violence, intimidation, and threats from exercising their franchise.’ Otherwise, the consistent rule has been to respect the electorate’s will and let the results of the election stand, despite irregularities that may have attended the conduct of the elections. This is but to acknowledge the purpose and role of elections in a democratic society such as ours, which is: to give the voters a direct participation in the affairs of their government, either in determining who shall be their public officials or in deciding some questions of public interest; and for that purpose all of the legal voters should be permitted, unhampered and unmolested, to cast their ballot. When that is done and no frauds have been committed, the ballots should be counted and the election should not be declared null. Innocent voters should not be deprived of their participation in the affairs of their government for mere irregularities on the part of the election officers, for which they are in no way responsible. A different rule

would make the manner and method of performing public duty of greater importance than the duty itself.”

Thus, the Tribunal painstakingly endeavored to “distinguish what votes are lawful and what are unlawful” and where it was simply impossible to tell the true and correct votes of either party, or where the results were statistically improbable, the ERs were rejected and the parties given zero votes. For it must be admitted that, as Pimentel had been able to do, it was possible in most instances to determine the “lawful” votes from the “unlawful.” Below are the votes of the parties as determined by the Tribunal:

Prec. No.

Pimentel

Zubiri

Prec. No.

Pimentel

Zubiri

1A

26

30

78A

29

62

2A

5

100

79A

6

30

3A

0

20

79B*

0

0

4A

6

18

79C

16

44

5A

0

40

79D/79E

21

33

6A

42

26

80A

16

98

7A

4

23

81A

7

33

8A

9

78

82A/82B

0

50

9A

50

125

83A

5

160

9B

17

73

84A

0

110

9C

20

40

85A

25

165

9D

29

53

86A

0

150

10A

17

135

87A*****

0

0

11A

0

120

88A******

0

0

12A

5

64

88B

1

174

13A/13B

18

58

88C

11

140

14A

3

119

88D*****

0

0

15A

12

125

88E

2

47

16A

11

70

88F*******

0

0

17A

5

82

88G

0

140

17B

4

70

89A*

0

0

18A

14

14

90A

18

92

19A

5

26

91A

14

110

20A

7

40

92A

107

101

20B/20C

9

44

92B

24

64

21A

16

31

93A

10

45

22A

40

46

94A

0

182

23A

18

21

94B

0

90

24A

33

38

94C

0

112

25A

13

25

95A

0

68

26A

18

50

96A/96B

5

82

27A

9

6

97A

1

80

28A

64

50

98A

9

189

29A

90

30

98B

0

86

30A

35

45

99A

4

15

31A

22

15

100A

0

13

32A

28

35

100B

0

184

32B

20

28

100C/100D

0

92

32C/32D

33

35

101A

10

135

33A

3

5

102A*********

0

0

34A

5

10

103A*

0

0

34B

36

25

104A/B

0

115

35A

48

60

105A

0

65

36A

20

100

105B

1

41

37A

23

102

106A/B

4

17

38A*

0

0

107A

0

88

39A

21

67

108A

4

48

40A

9

62

109A

0

38

40B

25

45

110A

0

125

40C

38

82

110B/110C**

0

0

40D

11

70

111A

5

65

41A

2

37

112A

0

174

42A

2

57

113A

13

54

43A

0

79

114A

7

63

43B

1

62

114B

12

43

44A

3

110

114C

1

21

45A

0

27

115A

13

29

45B/45C

1

126

116A

3

7

46A

1

30

117A

9

9

47A

2

2

118A*

0

0

48A

30

60

118B*********

0

0

49A*

0

0

118C

8

33

50A

1

45

119A/120A

0

64

51A

30

34

121A

0

98

51B

7

56

122A/122B

0

92

51C

0

10

123A*

0

0

52A

53

95

124A

26

68

53A

41

60

125A

132

34

54A

0

175

125B

12

28

55A

0

79

125C

11

59

56A

0

105

126A

0

120

57A

0

83

127A

0

24

58A**

0

0

128A

1

88

58B/58C

0

0

129A

0

195

59A**

0

0

130A

0

55

60A

8

171

131A*

0

0

61A

6

167

132A

0

183

62A

4

33

132B

5

116

63A

100

127

132C

5

109

64A

5

15

132D/132E

0

180

64B

10

25

133A

8

5

64C

68

78

134A

3

102

64D/64E***

0

0

135A/135B

1

68

65A

6

45

136

57

57

66A

8

48

137A

32

65

67A/67B

15

32

138A

37

36

68A

4

137

139A

52

71

69A

15

164

140A*

0

0

69B

0

86

141A

23

32

70A

18

23

142A

5

20

71A

0

21

142B

53

28

72A

0

18

142C

29

45

73A

6

8

142D

26

20

73B

1

107

143A

0

99

73C

0

7

144A

0

33

74A

35

42

145A

0

40

75A*

0

0

145B*

0

0

76A****

0

0

145C

0

195

77A

16

38

145D

0

6

TOTAL

2429

12,009

 

*Protestant’s tara of votes had been erased. Correct votes could not be determined.

**Protestee’s tara of votes markedly different from other taras. Correct votes could not be determined.

***ER report inconsistent with revision and appreciation findings.

****First set of taras very faint. Correct votes could not be determined.

*****Correct votes of Protestee could not be determined

******ER rejected. Thumbprints from lines 24 to 36 closing the votes incredibly smaller than other thumbmarks

*******Tara appears as M’s and W’s with a long horizontal line. Not signed by BEI

********Results are statistically improbable.

Comparing the votes of 2,791 and 33,888 recorded in the MCOC as the votes obtained by Pimentel and Zubiri, respectively, and their votes of 2,429 and 12,009, respectively, as determined by the Tribunal, 362 votes should be deducted from Pimentel and 21,879 votes should be deducted from Zubiri.

CORRECTION OF MANIFEST ERROR

Likewise questioned by Pimentel were the election results from the Municipality of Patikul, Sulu. Alleging that there was addition error in Zubiri’s Grand Total Votes Received in the Summary Statement of Votes with Serial No. 000101 from the Municipality, Protestant sought merely the re-tabulation of the election documents from said Municipality.

The Municipality of Patikul, Sulu had 177 established precincts, which were clustered into 117 precincts during the 14 May 2007 elections. A total of 18,432 out of 22,314 registered voters were reported to have actually cast their votes during the elections under consideration. The MCOC for Patikul, Sulu showed a vote of 1,471 for Pimentel and a vote of 2,650 for Zubiri.

On 25 June 2008, the Executive Committee issued Resolution No. 07-28 providing for “Additional Guidelines on the Correction of Manifest Errors”. These guidelines, which were subsequently confirmed by the full Tribunal in Resolution No. 07-28-A dated 14 August 2008, governed the Correction of Manifest Error undertaken on 30 June 2008 by the Correction Team.27

Correction of Statement of Votes by Precinct

The SOVPs of the Municipality consisted of six (6) pages with Serial Numbers 0000444, 0000445, 0000448, 0015091, 0015092 and 0015093, respectively. During the re-tabulation of the SOVPs, the following corrections were made:

In SOVP with Serial No. 0000444, the “Sub-total Votes Received” (SVR) of Zubiri was changed from “211” to “271” to correct the erroneous tabulation of the votes per precinct.

In SOVP with Serial No. 0000445, the SVR of Pimentel was adjusted from “225” to “231” to correct the erroneous reading of the number of votes from Precinct 172-A of “51” to “57”.

In SOVP No. 0000448, the SVR of Pimentel was increased from “195” to “238” while that of Zubiri was reduced from “359” to “330” to correct the erroneous tabulation of the votes per precinct.

In SOVP No. 0015091, the SVR of Pimentel was changed from “293” to “336” and the SVR of Zubiri was adjusted from “269” to 282” to correct the erroneous tabulation of the votes per precinct.

No errors in the tabulation of votes in SOVPs Nos. 0015092 and 0015093 were noted.

Corrector for Pimentel interposed an objection to the vote tabulated for Pimentel from Precinct 89A/90A in SOVP No. 000448. He alleged that the vote “11” (Exhibit “P-1”) is really “17”, so that the SVR for Protestant of “238” (Exhibit “P-2”) should be “244.” Corrector for Zubiri objected to Zubiri’s vote of “10” (Exhibit “Z-1”) from Precinct 82A in SOVP No. 0000444, alleging that the same is really “70”, so that the SVR for Zubiri should be “331” and not “271”(Exhibit Z-3). She further alleged that the vote for Pimentel of “57” (Exhibit “Z-2”) from Precinct 172A in SOVP No. 0000445 is only “51”, so that the SVR for Pimentel should only be “225” and not “231” (Exhibit “Z-4”). Lastly, she contended that per certified true copy of the SOVP from the Comelec, the votes obtained by the parties were 1,557 for Pimentel and 1,661 for Zubiri.

After a close scrutiny of the election documents in question, we rule as follows:

The vote of Pimentel from Precinct 89A/90A is “17”. The misreading was caused by the horizontal bar of the digit “7” being written on the horizontal gridline separating the votes of Pimentel from candidate Pichay. This is confirmed by the clear figure “17” appearing on the certified true copy of SOVP No. 0000448 on file with the Comelec submitted by Pimentel’s Corrector to substantiate his claim.

The vote of Zubiri from Precinct 82A is only “10” and not “70” as claimed. The faint horizontal line almost touching the digit “1” in “10” on the certified true copy of SOVP No. 0000444 on file with the Comelec submitted by Zubiri is a smudge which does not appear on the SOVP copy collected by the Tribunal. Hence, Zubiri’s “SVR” of “271” in SOVP No. 0000444 is correct. In fact, there was no need to correct the figure written as Zubiri’s SVR in said SOVP as what was read by the Head Corrector as “211” is actually “271”. The digit “7” appeared as a “1” in view of the fact that the horizontal bar of the digit “7” was written on the horizontal gridline separating the vote of Zubiri from that of candidate Wood. This is confirmed by the figure “271” recorded in the SSOV No. 0000101 as the SVR of Zubiri in SOVP No. 0000444.

The vote of Pimentel from Precinct 172A recorded in SOVP No. 0000445 is “57” and not “51” as asserted by Zubiri. There is a space between the horizontal bar of the digit “5” and the horizontal bar of the digit “7”, clearly showing that the number written was “57.”

Accordingly, the correct SVR of the parties per SOVP is:

Serial # of SOVP

PimentelNBC Votes

Pimentel Votes after Correction

+ (-)

Zubiri NBC Votes

Zubiri Votes

after Correction

+ (-)

0000444

290

290

0

271

271

0

0000445

225

231

6

403

403

0

0000448

195

238

43

359

330

(29)

0005091

293

336

43

269

282

13

0005092

360

360

0

213

213

0

0005093

108

108

0

102

102

0

TOTAL

1,471

1,563

92

1,617

1,601

(16)

 

Correction of the Summary Statement of Votes No. 0000101

SSOV No. 0000101 has erasures from lines 19 to 36 in the columns for the votes in SOVP No. 0015093 and the “Grand Total Votes Received” corresponding to the votes of candidates Lozano, Magsaysay, Montano, Oreta, Orpilla, Osmeňa, Pangilinan, Paredes, Pichay, Pimentel, Recto, Roco, Singson, Sison, Sotto, Trillanes, Villar and Wood. The votes of the parties as originally recorded thereon and as corrected by the Correction Team are as follows:

SOVP No.

Pimentel’s Votes as Originally Recorded

Pimentel’s Votes as Corrected

Zubiri’s Vote

as Originally Recorded

Zubiri’s Vote

as Corrected

0000444

290

290

271

271

0000445

225

231

403

403

0000448

195

238

359

330

0015091

293

336

269

282

0015092

360

360

213

213

0015093

108

108

102

102

Total

1,471

1,563

2,650

1,601

 

Comparing the number of votes of the parties as corrected by the Tribunal with the number of votes reflected in the MCOC with Serial No. 0000172, Pimentel is credited with 92 additional votes while Zubiri suffers a decrease of 1,049 votes, thus:

Votes per Municipal Certificate of Canvass

Findings after

Re-Tabulation

Votes Added / Deducted

PIMENTEL

1,471

1,563

92

ZUBIRI

2,650

1,601

(1,049)

 

ADJUSTMENT OF VOTES VIS-À-VIS MCOC VOTE TOTALS

The votes to be deducted from the parties as determined by the Tribunal after revision and appreciation of ballots were compared with the votes listed for them in the Municipal Certificates of Canvass (MCOC), which vote totals were carried over to their provincial totals. When the number of votes to be deducted after revision and appreciation is higher than the vote totals listed in the MCOC, the number of votes to be deducted from the parties is adjusted to the MCOC vote total. If the MCOC vote is higher than the votes to be deducted, then the vote deduction is adjusted to the MCOC vote.

VOTES ADDED/DEDUCTED IN THE CONTESTED AREAS OF PIMENTEL

Below is a tabular presentation of the votes added or deducted to the parties as well as the adjustments made vis-à-vis the vote totals listed for them in the Municipal Certificates of Canvass:

City/Municipality

Adjustments from Appreciation

Adjustments from Appreciation

Adjustments vis-à-vis MCOC & Other Documents

Adjustments

vis-à-vis

MCOC & Other Documents

Total Votes Added/

Deducted

Total Votes

Added/

Deducted

Pimentel

Zubiri

Pimentel

Zubiri

Pimentel

Zubiri

LANTAWAN

-582

-1,577

44

-5,662

-538

-7,239

TIPO-TIPO

-244

-390

0

0

-244

-390

MATUNGAO

-245

-591

9

-2,327

-236

-2,918

MUNAI

-912

-3,813

202

1,180

-710

-2,633

NUNUNGAN

-480

-3,490

29

1,223

-451

-2,267

POONA PIAGAPO

-533

-5,833

593

211

60

-5,622

SALVADOR

-335

-15,725

-67

-72

-402

-15,797

SULTAN NAGA DIMAPORO

-82

-24,195

-32

-365

-114

-24,560

TANGCAL

-54

-709

77

-859

23

-1,568

CALANOGAS

-92

-319

0

0

-92

-319

MADALUM

-429

-3,229

-302

-320

-731

-3,549

PICONG

-96

-5,126

-582

962

-678

-4,164

TAMPARAN

-1,133

-8,888

-2,343

1,386

-3,476

-7,502

AMPATUAN

-1,174

-9,881

-66

-324

-1,240

-10,205

BULUAN

-289

-9,510

-32

-125

-321

-9,635

DATU ABDULLAH SANGKI

-1,288

-7,941

14

0

-1,274

-7,941

DATU ANGGAL MIDTIMBANG

-4,563

-4,991

-122

47

-4,685

-4,944

DATU PAGLAS

-1,767

-9,910

-1,354

-1,893

-3,121

-11,803

DATU PIANG

-4,261

-17,750

-17

-225

-4,278

-17,975

DATU SAUDI AMPATUAN

-1,937

-11,073

-34

-176

-1,971

-11,249

DATU UNSAY

-1,939

-9,915

-75

-41

-2,014

-9,956

GEN. S. K. PENDATUN

-2,764

-10,414

2,764

-260

0

-10,674

GUINDULUNGAN

-1,156

-4,589

85

10

-1,071

-4,579

MAMASAPANO

-2,102

-9,705

-28

-652

-2,130

-10,357

MANGUDADATU

-2,346

-2,811

-1,879

-1,743

-4,225

-4,554

PAGAGAWAN

-3,179

-9,417

-602

-813

-3,781

-10,230

PAGALUNGAN

-1,571

-2,080

-625

-142

-2,196

-2,222

PAGLAT

-625

-4,374

-143

-27

-768

-4,401

PANDAG

-2,084

-2,956

-1,092

-425

-3,176

-3,381

RAJAH BUAYAN

-1,744

-6,094

4

-498

-1,740

-6,592

SHARIFF AGUAK

-9,405

-25,678

195

-1,203

-9,210

-26,881

SOUTH UPI

-7,725

-8,962

-779

-342

-8,504

-9,304

SULTAN KUDARAT

-1

-11

-361

-21,868

-362

-21,879

SULTAN SA BARONGIS

-1,646

-7,779

-25

-633

-1,671

-8,412

TALAYAN

-6,035

-6,265

-165

-87

-6,200

-6,352

TALITAY

-1,579

-4,011

-42

46

-1,621

-3,965

DATU BLAH SINSUAT

-419

-566

-2,545

-6,260

-2,964

-6,826

KABUNTALAN

-234

-271

-211

-5,289

-445

-5,560

LUTAYAN

-1,273

-6,397

-8,897

-16,226

-10,170

-22,623

PALIMBANG

-831

-681

167

-8,668

-664

-9,349

KALINGALAN CALUANG

-181

-3,589

-109

-1,654

-290

-5,243

LUUK

-240

-14,038

-670

-600

-910

-14,638

PATIKUL (Correction of Manifest Error)

92

-1,049

92

-1,049

TAPUL

-107

-3,680

45

-259

-62

-3,939

TOTAL

-69,682

-289,224

-18,879

-76,022

-88,561

-365,246

Net Recovery by Pimentel from

219,542

57,143

Total Recovery by Pimentel

276,685

 

In the Comelec-NBC Senatorial Canvass Report No. 30, the votes of the parties were reported as:

Pimentel – 10,984,807

Zubiri – 11,004,099

Adding the votes obtained by the parties in the COC’s which were canvassed by the Comelec-NBC subsequent to Zubiri’s proclamation of 2,540 for Pimentel and 1,767 for Zubiri, the starting votes of the parties are::

Pimentel – 10,987,347

Zubiri – 11,005,866

With the vote deductions decreed by the Tribunal, the parties’ votes now stand as follows:

Pimentel

Zubiri

Votes in Senatorial Canvass Report No. 30 and in COC’s Canvassed after Zubiri’s proclamation

10,987,347

11,005,866

Votes to be Deducted

-88,561

-365,246

Votes after Revision & Appreciation

10,898,786

10,640,620

DIFFERENCE

258,166

 

It being clear from the above figures that Pimentel indeed obtained 258,166 more votes than Zubiri in the senatorial race in the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections, the proclamation of Zubiri as the 12th winning senatorial candidate by the Comelec-NBC should be, as it is hereby annulled and

set aside, and a new one entered, declaring Pimentel as the duly elected senator of the Philippines.

WHEREFORE, Resolution No. NBC 07-67 of the Commission on Elections En Banc, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers, dated 14 July 2007, is ANNULLED and SET ASIDE. Aquilino L. Pimentel III is DECLARED as the 12th duly elected Senator of the Philippines during the 14 May 2007 National and Local Elections.

The counter protest of Juan Miguel F. Zubiri is considered WITHDRAWN and TERMINATED. All other pending motions of the parties are declared MOOT and ACADEMIC.

The Canvass Board Service is DIRECTED to return to their places of origin all the ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia at present in the custody of the Tribunal in connection with the instant electoral protest case, the cost of return to be charged against the parties in accordance with the Revised Rules of the Tribunal. The Finance and Budget Service is DIRECTED to return to the parties the excess, if any, of their respective cash deposits, after the return of the ballot boxes, election documents and election paraphernalia.

Considering that less than one year and eleven months remain of the six-year term of the contested office, this Decision is immediately executory. Let copies of this Decision be furnished the Senate of the Philippines, the President of the Philippines, the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Audit.

SO ORDERED.

11 August 2011.

ANTONIO T. CARPIO

Senior Associate Justice

Chairman

TERESITA J. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO

Associate Justice

Member

ARTURO D. BRION

Associate Justice

Member

COMPAÑERA PIA S. CAYETANO  Senator

Member

FRANCIS N. PANGILINAN

Senator

Member

MANUEL “LITO” M. LAPID 

Senator

Member

GREGORIO B. HONASAN II

Senator

Member

RAMON “BONG” REVILLA, JR. 

Senator

Member

ANTONIO “SONNY” F. TRILLANES IV

Senator

Member

 

1 Sitting as the National Board of Canvassers.

2 Resolution No. NBC 07-67 dated 14 July 2007.

3 Filed ex abundante ad cautelam in view of the pendency before the Supreme Court of a petition

for certiorari and mandamus to annul and set aside the proceedings of the Comelec-NBC and

the Special Provincial Board of Canvassers of Maguindanao.

4 Annex “D”, Ibid., p. 42, Rollo, Vol. I.

5 For Patikul, no recount or revision of ballots, only re-tabulation of the Summary Statement of

Votes (SSOV) and the pertinent Statement of Votes by Precinct (SOVPs) was sought.

6 pp. 267-269, Rollo, Vol. I.

7 pp. 580-592, Rollo, Vol. III.

8 pp. 623-630, Rollo, Vol. III.

9 Resolution No. 07-04 dated 04 October 2007, pp. 657-662, Rollo, Vol. III.

10 Resolution No. 07-06 dated 04 October 2007, pp. 671-673, Rollo, Vol. III.

11 Tribunal Chairman Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio filed a Dissenting Opinion, which was

concurred in by Senator Compaňera Pia S. Cayetano. Senator Francis N. Pangilinan filed a separate

opinion, concurring in part and dissenting in part.

12 Dated 27 July 2011.

13 The Tribunal findings on the election results from the Municipality of Sultan Kudarat, Shariff Kabunsuan

is discussed in length in the latter portion of the decision.

14 The company awarded the contract to supply the paper for the ballots.

15 Dir. De Mesa and Mr. Young testified on 17 February 2008; Engr. Ferrer testified on 19 February 2008,

while Mr. Arcadio testified on 21 February 2008.

16 TSN, 17 February 2008, 10:00 A.M. Hearing, pp. 8-27.

17 Batas Pambansa Blg. 881.

18 Exh. “M” for Protestant, Exh. “499-B” to “499-G” for Protestee.

19 Exh. “V” for Protestant, Exh. “891” to “891-F” for Protestee.

20 Exh. “F2” for Protestant, Exh. “890” for Protestee

21 p. 17, Formal Offer of Exhibits of Protestant

22 Protestant’s Memorandum (for the Pilot Areas), pp. 20-22.

23 TSN, 27 February 2008 Hearing, pp. 4-16.

24 Exhs. “500” to “697” for Protestee.

25 Precincts 85A, 118C and 136A.

26 G.R. No. 148334, 21 January 2004, 420 SCRA 438

27 Composed of Ms. Ma. Cel-sa S. Palomar, Legislative Staff Officer IV, Legal Service as Head Corrector, Mr. Alexander Lerona, Corrector-Representative of Pimentel and Ms. Elizabeth D. Macarubbo, Corrector-Representative of Zubiri.