MANILA,  JUNE 9, 2004
By Jose Rodel Clapano  -  Administration Sen. Robert Barbers asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday to void the proclamation of partymate Sen. Rodolfo Biazon as the 12th winner in the May 10 senatorial race.

Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra, however, said Biazon remains senator until his proclamation is nullified.

Last June 2, the poll body proclaimed Biazon as the 12th winning senator after its final tally showed the retired Armed Forces chief had garnered 10,635,270 votes as against the 10,624,585 of Barbers ó a lead of 10,685.

In filing the petition, Barbersí lawyers Juanito Arcilla and Lindley Santillan said an estimated 19,000 votes have remained uncanvassed in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, and Sultan Kudarat.

Barbers, through his lawyers, said that Biazonís "hasty proclamation" was "illegal, premature and anomalous" as there are still enough votes that could "materially change" the results of the elections.

"There remains to be a significant number of votes yet to be canvassed in certain areas in Mindanao, Visayas and Southern Luzon that will sum up to an approximate 30,000 votes all in all," Barbersí lawyers said in a statement.

"We consider this a substantial number that may alter the result of the last remaining spot for the so-called Magic 12 in the senatorial race," the statement read.

Borra said 29,000 votes have not yet been canvassed and that the figures have been confirmed by Comelec field personnel.

"At the time the Comelec made the proclamation, the data showed Biazon had a margin of 10,685 votes," he said. "It is only now from the summary of all the precincts and places (that would) yet be holding special elections to be included in the canvass, (that) there is this margin 29,000 votes yet to be counted."

Borra said they would schedule special elections or would canvass the remaining election returns before monthís end.

Special elections are yet to be held in the following municipalities: South Upi and Talitay in Maguindanao, Columbio in Sultan Kudarat, Tinglayan in Kalinga, Silvino Lobos in Northern Samar, Ligao City in Albay, and Kapai, Madalum, Bayang, and Balabagan, all in Lanao del Sur.

The 10 towns reportedly have a combined voting population of 29,219.

Biazon said he has not yet received any official notice on the petition of Barbers.

"I donít know the nature of this petition," he said in a statement.

"I expect the Comelec to sit en banc to decide what to do with this petition. Of course, the Comelec may reject this petition, considering that I have been proclaimed last June 2, 2004 with all seven Comelec commissioners signing the proclamation.

"I consider this a post-election act in the nature of a post-election contest now falling under the jurisdiction of the Senate Electoral Tribunal," Biazon said. ó With Jose Aravilla

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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