Aga Muhlach says he won, files case vs Fuentebella

Aga Muhlach files an electoral protest against his opponent and congressman-elect Wimpy Fuentebella

PROTEST. Aga Muhlach files an electoral protest challenging the results of the Camarines Sur 4th district Congressional race. Photo by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Actor Aga Muhlach believes he won the tight congressional race against his opponent, Felix William “Wimpy” Fuentebella, and is going to court to prove it.

Over two weeks after the 2013 midterm elections, the Camarines Sur 4th district congressional candidate filed an election protest with the House of Representatives of Electoral Tribunal (HRET) against his opponent, Congressman-elect Fuentebella.

The election protest, filed by Muhlach’s counsel Romulo Macalintal on Friday, May 31, alleged “that [Muhlach] and the electorate of the 4th legislative district of Camarines Sur were the victims of apparent tampering of CF cards used in the various clustered precincts.”

They said further examination would prove Muhlach’s poll watchers’ claims that pre-shaded ballots—intended to make Muhlach lose votes or increase Fuentebella’s votes—were fed to the ballot counting machines.

Muhlach’s camp also complained that the CF cards “were used to transmit highly anomalous results to the respective servers” of the Municipal Boards of Canvassers of the district, and were the source of the Provincial Board of Canvassers’ “hasty proclamation” of Funtebella – even when not all election returns in the district had been canvassed.

The complaint pointed out that 178,201 voters in the district cast their ballots, based on the results. Muhlach garnered 80,629 votes while Fuentebella received 82,834, or a total of 163,463 votes. The remaining 14,738 votes were said to be invalid or missing, which Macalintal said is “unusual and highly questionable.”

Before the elections, Muhlach had to tackle 3 disqualification cases questioning his Camarines Sur residency and his Filipino citizenship. He was cleared of all 3.

Muhlach was the ruling Liberal Party’s bet to run against the 105-year-old political dynasty of the Fuentebellas. Initital news reports showed Muhlach ahead of Fuentebella.

Aside from this electoral protest, Muhlach has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to declare a failure of elections in his district. 

Recount requested

Macalintal sought for a recount, revision and physical examination of the ballots from the protested precincts, including those in the municipalities of Siruma, Caramoan, Lagonoy and Tinambac.

In these precincts, they argued the ballot counting machines failed to credit votes for Muhlach because of pre-shaded ballots and CF cards that were tampered with.

The protest also accused Fuentebella of using armed men “to terrorize and intimidate voters” to get them to vote for him. The complaint cited numerous reports “of widespread vote buying, harassment and intimidation, pre-shading of ballots, barangay officials inside the precincts, payments made after voting, tampering with ballots, Board of Election Inspectors inserting different ballots into PCOS machines, corrupted CF cards, [and] manual transmission of election results.”

To support Muhlach’s case, Macalintal also called attention to discrepancies between results from the random manual audit and automated count, as well as statements made by Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr, who said some CF cards were naturally defective or tampered with. – Rappler.com

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