Jejomar Binay files electoral protest vs Makati congressman Peña

Mara Cepeda
Jejomar Binay files electoral protest vs Makati congressman Peña

Rappler.com

Defeated congressional bet Jejomar Binay accuses his opponent Kid Peña of buying votes in Makati City, allegedly handing out P500 to P2,000 per voter

MANILA, Philippines – Former vice president Jejomar Binay is contesting the electoral victory of Makati City 1st District Representative Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr, who beat him by 5,806 votes.

Binay’s lawyers from the Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza, and Binay law office – which the longtime Makati mayor co-founded – filed his 70-page election case against Peña with the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) on Monday, July 15. A copy of the case was sent to reporters on Tuesday, July 16. 

In his petition, Binay asked the HRET to conduct a manual recount of ballots in all 235 clustered precincts in the 1st District of Makati. (READ: Jejomar Binay loses congressional bid in Makati)

Binay asked the HRET to nullify the declaration of Peña as Makati congressman following numerous reports of vote-counting machine (VCM) failure in the city, which supposedly caused several votes for Binay not to be counted. 

He accused Peña of resorting to vote-buying, allegedly handing out P500 to P2,000 per person during the campaign period to either secure their votes for Peña or take away votes from Binay. 

“The vote-buying perpetrated by the team of Protestee involved the payment of P500 to P2,000 to voters for them to vote for their candidate or anyone else but Protestant,” said Binay.

Binay also accused Peña and his supporters of allegedly manipulating precinct proceedings so that some voters who had difficulty writing or had poor eyesight were not given the necessary assistance when they cast their ballot.

The defeated congressional candidate, however, said his electoral protest against Peña was “not filed out of spite.”

“It is a challenge to uncover the true will of the people, the voters of Makati City. There were simply numerous reports of machine malfunctions, voter disenfranchisement, and other issues pertaining to widespread fraud. No less than the President himself, Honorable Rodrigo R Duterte, publicly stated his displeasure with the conduct of the 2019 midterm elections,” said Binay. 

Peña garnered a total of 71,035 votes against Binay’s 65,229 votes. 

Electoral anomalies, voter disenfranchisement?

According to Binay, the congressional race in Makati was “marred by various manifestations of fraud, anomalies, irregularities, and statistical improbabilities.”

He argued that these incidents caused 9,050 votes to be nullified or misread in Makati’s 1st District.

Binay himself was not able to immediately vote on May 13, after the VCM in his precinct repeatedly rejected his ballot. He was able to cast his vote properly 3 hours later.

Among the other incidents Binay mentioned in his election case were the widespread brownouts of “suspicious” causes in barangays Pio del Pilar and Bangkal between 5:30 pm and 6:30 pm during election day on May 13.

He also said the results in the protested precincts are “not reflective” of the actual votes cast because of “irregularities and errors” during the counting and canvassing of votes.  

According to Binay, several ballot ovals that were shaded in favor of him were tagged as undershaded, overshaded, or had a check mark, leading the VCMs to recognize them as “undervotes.”

“A reexamination of these ballots would reveal that these votes are a valid expression of the voters’ will and revision would result [in] counting these ballots as valid votes for Protestant,” said Binay.

He also claimed there were errors in the scanning of ballots as well as the counting of votes cast through the VCMs, causing votes for him not to be counted “for unexplained reasons.”

Aside from seeking a manual recount of votes and the nullification of Peña’s proclamation, Binay is asking the HRET to conduct a comprehensive forensic analysis of the automated election system by a technical panel of “independent experts” appointed by the tribunal.

He is also urging the HRET to declare him as the duly elected Makati City 1st District representative “for having obtained the plurality of the votes cast.”

Binay and Peña were once political allies, when the latter ran as barangay captain under Binay’s United Nationalist Alliance. 

Peña left the party in 2010 to run for vice mayor alongside another former Binay ally, Ernesto Mercado. Peña was reelected as vice mayor in 2013, this time under the Liberal Party. When Binay’s son, then-Makati City mayor Junjun Binay, was preventively suspended from his post over corruption charges, it was Peña who took over. 

Peña then ran for mayor in 2016, but he lost to another Binay child, Makati Mayor Abby Binay, who won her second term in May.  

Read the full copy of Binay’s election case against Peña below:

 

– Rappler.com

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.