MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections dismissed on Friday a petition to declare a failure of elections in the towns of Taysan and Sto. Tomas in Batangas, paving the way for the proclamation of incumbent provincial board member Mark Leviste as the vice governor-elect.
In a 10-page decision, the six election commissioners, voting unanimously, cited lack of merit in the petition of Leviste’s rival candidate Edwin Ermita, son of Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita,
“After a careful evaluation of the records of this case, the Commission en banc finds that there is no sufficient and convincing evidence presented to warrant the declaration of failure of elections,” the Comelec ruled.
The body noted that a petition for failure of elections may only be granted if it is proven that voting did not take place because of violence, terrorism or fraud. A failure may also be declared if elections did take place but nobody emerged as winner.
“We take notice of the fact that the winning candidates for the municipal offices in Sto. Tomas and Taysan have already been proclaimed,” the commissioners added, citing the certificates of canvass and proclamation of certificates of winning candidates.
They also that said votes involved in the petition were not sufficient to affect the results of the elections.
The Comelec suspended the proclamation of the winner of the Batangas race for vice governor last May 18 following Ermita’s petition for the declaration of election failure. Ermita referred to the burning of a school in Pinagbayanan, Taysan that resulted in the death of teacher and his poll watcher, massive vote-buying, bribery, employment of armed groups, and use of government funds and resources by the rival camp.
Others who joined Ermita’s petition were candidates Hernando Villena, who ran for the Taysan mayoral post, Meynard Sabili, for the 4th congressional district, Noel Ascano, for Sto. Tomas mayor, and seven others.
A reading of the decision indicates it may have been adopted as early as about two weeks ago and that its issuance was delayed, probably because the last of the commissioners may have signed the decision only recently.