Bulacan recall poll gathers steam

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MALOLOS CITY: The Bulacan provincial election office is expected to issue a certification this week on whether or not the required percentage of signatories to the recall petition against Gov. Wilhelmino Sy-Alvarado has been attained.

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Perlita Mendoza, the lead petitioner for the recall election, told The Manila Times that 85 percent of the signatures have been validated, which is more than the 10 percent required by the Recall Law.

“This is a victory for the people of Bulacan,” she added.

Election officers from 21 municipalities and three cities have submitted their individual certification and report on Wednesday on the total number of valid signatures and thumbmarks obtained in their respective areas. The election office was at Holy Week break from Thursday until Friday.

Based on the Commission on Election’s (Comelec) Resolution no. 7505, or the rules governing the recall elections, the Office of Provincial Election Supervisor (OPES) should submit a consolidated report on the total number of signatories in each municipality and city on the basis of certifications received from the election officers. OPES is concurrently headed by Regional Election Director Temie Lambino as its acting supervisor.

The report, which will be submitted to the Office of the Deputy Executive Director for Operations (ODEDO), should state if the required number of petitioners has been attained. For recall petition of provincial officers, it needs at least 10 percent of the total voting population. Bulacan has over 1.4 million registered voters based on the 2013 elections.

The ODEDO, once the recall petition and its support documents had been reviewed and evaluated and no infirmities in the process were found, should recommend the setting of recall election to the Comelec en banc.

Nearing ban period
But the Comelec en banc has only much time to decide as the recall is permitted to be held not later than May 8, or a year before the 2016 elections that is within the ban period.

In relation to the number of petitioners, it is still uncertain if the required number of signatories will be sufficient.

While the original number of petitioners, over 319,000 signatures, is more than enough to the required number, most of the election offices did not finish with its verification after the Comelec ordered election officers on Tuesday to stop with the verification procedures. Also, several legal tussles between Comelec and Alvarado led to the delay of the proceedings.

In the city of Malolos, for instance, where 25,835 people signed the petition, only 8,669 were verified as of Tuesday. This means the remaining 17, 166 signatures will no longer be part of the recall process. Other areas such as Sta. Maria, Marilao, and San Jose Del Monte City have petitioners of not less than 20,000, data showed.

Alvarado earlier sought the help of the Malolos Regional Trial Court Branch 83 to stop the poll body from conducting the recall, which was granted in the form of a temporary restraining order. It was later lifted after the court junked his request for injunction.

Alvarado also filed charges of indirect contempt of court against the election officers and their staffs, which resulted in fear of some recall verifiers and checkers to proceed with the procedures.

Mendoza said that the recall election has been an uphill fight for them.

“This has been an uphill fight for Bulakenos but with our faith in the Almighty and our belief in our effort to solve our problems and get a better government in place, we will continue our fight to the end. This is not just for us but for our province. We need to stop corruption and make public officials accountable for their acts,” she added.

WITH REPORT FROM JING VILLAMENTE

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