180,000 recall signatures invalid

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MALOLOS CITY: Names and signatures of over 180,000 who had signed a recall petition against Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado of Bulacan have been invalidated, the provincial election office said on Thursday.

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The petitioners in the recall elections against Alvarado also hit the action of the provincial elections commission for its allegedly deliberate delay in pushing through with the recall polls.

Acting provincial election supervisor Temie Lambino said out of 249,177 contested signatures and thumb marks that were examined and verified by the election officers of Bulacan, a total of 181,201 or 72.7 percent have been canceled and thus considered not counted in the petition.

Among the grounds for the cancelation of signatures are forgery or falsification, failure of petitioner to prove he is a registered voter during the 2013 elections, appearance of signature or thumb mark in the petition more than once and smudged, blurred or indistinct thumb mark, according to Lambino, concurrent regional election director.

In a news conference, the local poll official said 67, 959 names and signatures were validated by the election officers from the 21 municipalities and three component cities. This number accounts for 27.3 percent of the total verified petitioners.

Based on Comelec Resolution 7505, or the rules governing the recall polls, the petition needs at least 10 percent of the total voting population of the province to proceed.

With 1.83 million voters in Bulacan, the petition needs to gather about 183,000 petitioners for the Comelec to hold a reelection.

But Lambino noted that the Comelec consolidated report is still subject to an appeal by both parties-Alvarado as respondent and Perlita Mendoza as the lead petitioner-within three days from receipt of the report.

He said the numbers could still change, however.

“The [Comelec] en banc can scrutinize also the signatures appearing in the petition,” Lambino pointed out “This would be subject to the decision of the en banc.”

Dead petitioners
Election officers, who were present in the briefing, said among the canceled petitioners were those already dead.

Joel Guinto, Malolos City election officer, said he himself has found at least three names of petitioners who were already dead.

Election officers from Norzagaray, Hagonoy, Pulilan and Baliwag, among other Bulacan towns, found similar cases.

The municipalities of Angat and Hagonoy have the lowest number of validated signatures.

In Angat, where a total of 6, 406 petitioners were registered, only nine of them were found to be valid.

Hagonoy, the bulwark of Alvarado where he served as its mayor, has only 31 validated petitioners out of 840 signatures.

In the town of San Rafael, there were more validated petitioners (7, 426) than canceled signatures (6,220).

Originally, there were over 319, 000 who signed the Bulacan recall but the election officers were not able to finish the verification because of several delays.

The Comelec had also ordered the officers to stop with the verification process on March 31.

Once all the appeals have been settled by the Comelec, and if the number of required petitioners is attained and found to have a valid petition, the poll body en banc shall set the date of the election recall, which should not be later than 45 days after the determination.

But it is racing against time as the Comelec en banc has less than a month to hold recall elections as the law prohibits the poll body from conducting elections a year before next year’s May 8 polls.

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