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High court resolves controversy surrounding barangay polls 3 years ago

The Supreme Court (SC) has declared the winner in the controversial barangay election in Manila three years ago.
The high tribunal said petitioner Jaime Regio won over his rival respondent Ronnie Co, adding the Commission on Elections (Comelec) erred in its discretion in siding with the latter.
Despite the mootness of the case, the court found the need to decide the petition on its merits in view of the finding of the Comelec en banc that Co should have been declared the winner for the post of punong barangay for the term 2010 to 2013.
“Wherefore premises considered, this Petition for Certiorari is granted. The Resolution dated Dec. 7, 2012 of the Comelec en banc… is hereby nullified and set aside. The Resolution of the Comelec First Division dated Aug. 23, 2011, affirming the Decision in Election Case of the Me TC, Branch 4 in Manila is hereby reinstated.”
Regio and Co were among other candidates who ran during the 2010 barangay polls in Barangay 296, Zone 28, District III of the City of Manila for the position of punong barangay.
Regio got 478 votes as against the 336 votes obtained by Co and was proclaimed winner for the contested post of punong barangay.
On Nov. 4, 2010, Co filed an election protest before the MeTC. He claimed, among other things, the Board of Election Tellers did not follow Comelec Resolution, as it: (1) did not permit his supporters to vote; (2) allowed “flying voters” to cast votes, and (3) ignored the rules on appreciation of ballots, resulting in misreading, miscounting and misappreciation of ballots. Additionally, he alleged that Regio resorted to vote-buying and engaged in distribution of sample ballots inside the polling centers during the day of the elections.
In a Resolution dated Aug. 23, 2011, the Comelec First Division dismissed the appeal, noting, as the MeTC did, that Co failed to show that the integrity of the ballots in question was in fact preserved.
The Comelec First Division ruled that the absence of any report or record of tampering of the ballot boxes does not preclude the possibility of ballot tampering.
It also affirmed the rejection of Co’s reliance on the revision committee report as proof that no post-election tampering occurred.
The decision was nullified by the Comelec en banc holding that Co was the duly elected punong barangay until the case reached the high tribunal.
In its decision, the court pointed out that Co had not proved that the integrity of the ballots has been preserved.
Applying the Rosal doctrine, the court ruled that the Comelec en banc committed grave abuse of discretion in ruling that Co had “successfully discharged the burden of proving that the ballots counted during the revision proceedings are the same ballots cast and counted during the day of the elections.”
“That is the essence of the second paragraph in the Rosal doctrine. It is well to note that the respondent Co did not present any testimonial evidence to prove that the election paraphernalia inside the protested ballot boxes had been preserved. He mainly relied on the report of the revision committee.
There was no independent, direct or indirect, evidence to prove the preservation of the ballots and other election paraphernalia. This leads us to no other conclusion but that respondent Co failed to discharge his burden under the Rosal doctrine.”
According to the full court, “with no independent evidence to speak of, respondent Co cannot simply rely on the report of the revision committee, and from there conclude that the report itself is proof of the preservation of the ballots.”
“What he needs to provide is evidence independent of the revision proceedings.”

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