Aga’s protest prompts HRET to open ballot boxes

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Almost six months after actor Aga Muhlach’s defeat in the 2013 polls, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) has taken action to determine the merits of his electoral protest against Rep. Felix William Fuentebella of the 4th District of Camarines Sur.

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In a four-paged decision, the HRET has sought for the ballots in question, as well as the voters’ list, to resolve Muhlach’s election protest.

“Allegations of errors or irregularities in the scanning or counting of votes by the PCOS machines, tampered ballots and insertions of ballots, among others, in the protested precincts, as well as the matter of rejected ballots raised by protester in the counter-protested precincts all constitute sufficient grounds to warrant the opening of the ballot boxes containing the ballots to determine the truth or falsity of the said allegation,” the HRET pointed out.

In his protest, Muhlach argued that there was widespread vote buying, faulty counting of ballots and use of defective flashcards (where votes are stored) in PCOS machines.

Muhlach, who lost to Fuentebella by 2,205 votes, is protesting the election results in the municipalities of Caramoan, Garchitorena, Lagomoy, Presentacion, Sagnay, Siruna and Tinambac.

The veteran actor Muhlach actually led his rival, whose family has been in power in Camarines Sur for the last 100 years, before losing at the eleventh hour.

The HRET is the sole body tasked to resolve election protests which are ventilated after the proclamation of winners, while PCOS is the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines which count the votes. LLANESCA T. PANTI

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