All the supporters of former mayor of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, Abundia L. Garcia, shocked and awed when the protest she filed against CF cards showed her wresting the lead in the ongoing manual count before the Regional Trial Court of Gapan City, Branch 34. From the margin of loss of 1,156 votes as counted by the PCOS machine and the CF cards therein, Garcia is now leading by 19 votes over opponent Gloria “Baby” Congco, with still 19 clustered precincts still to be opened by the court for the manual revision. During the first phase of the manual revision, covering 20 clustered precincts, the margin resulting from the PCOS count was drastically reduced to 290 votes. After the 20 precincts were counted, the Second Division of the Commission on Election chaired by Nicodemo Ferrer stopped the manual count of the court by means of a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the ground that the protest did not comply to the “form and substance” for failure to state what precincts were protested against by Garcia, and on the allegation that the reason that Congco’s votes were drastically reduced was that the electronic paper ballots with votes in favor of Congco were stolen from the ballot boxes while being deposited at Cabiao’s treasurer’s office. That TRO was issued despite the vehement opposition of Garcia that there was no more requirement to state and substantiate what fraud occurred in what precincts because she was protesting all the precincts, and that it was impossible to steal PCOS paper ballots from the ballot box because of the very thin opening in the middle of the top of the boxes that makes impossible for the paper ballots to be picked out. Additionally, Garcia argued that it was highly improbable for her to pick ballots voted in favor of her opponent because the votes of her running mate and allied councilor candidates may be affected as it is always possible that voters voted for her opponent yet they also voted for her allies. When the court count proceeded because the TRO was not extended, 17 more clustered precincts were opened and the Comelec-count votes of Congco was further reduced, drastically again. In Clustered Precinct No. 29, Congco’s vote of 295 was reduced to 145 votes only; while Garcia’s Comelec votes of 264 stayed at 264 after the manual count. This reduced the 290 margin of Congco to 140 votes. Vote counts in Precincts Nos. 24 to 28 did not change. When votes in Clustered Precinct No. 23 were revised, the 240 votes of Congco in the Comelec count were reduced to 90 votes only, or by 150 votes. This enabled Garcia to overtake Congco and wrest the lead by 10 votes. The manual count in Precinct No. 22 did not change. But the vote count in Precincts Nos. 21 and 20 in Barangay Polilio increased the votes of Garcia from 393 to 405 while that of Congco’s increased from 290 to 291. This increased the lead of Garcia by 11 votes. The day after Garcia had wrestled away the lead, the Comelec issued a decision on the certiorari petition of Congco ordering the RTC of Gapan to dismiss the protest case in a 12-page decision signed by Ferrer and Commissioners Lucenito N. Tagle and Elias R. Yusoph. Many residents of Cabiao lost respect to CF cards upon hearing the news of the drastic reversal of the results as against the manual count. During the voting day on May 10, 2010, there were 21 precincts that malfunctioned such that there was no counting that occurred. Days later, the uncounted ballots were counted when the PCOS was said to have been repaired. It was said that the malfunctioning of these PCOS machines were said to have been due to the CF cards. In Precinct37 of Barangay San Gregorio, the original count of Congco was 290 votes as against Garcia’ 204. But when the court revisers opened the ballot boxesit showed that Congco only had 119 votes: a difference of 171 votes. In Precinct 38 of the same barangay, the original count of Congco was 260. But when the ballots inside the box were examined, she had only 69 votes. In Precinct 52 of Barangay Sta. Isabel, the original count of Congco was 186. When the ballots were examined she only had 44 votes.
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In Precinct 53 of Barangay Sta. Rita, the original PCOS machine’s count was 378 votes. But the manual examination by the court showed she should have only 180 votes. In Precinct 54 of the same barangay, the original CF card’s count was 321 votes. The manual count of the court showed she should have 122 votes only. In Precinct 55 of the same barangay, the original Comelec count was 406 votes. The court’s count showed she only had 294 votes.