THE defeated candidate for mayor in Pinamungajan town, Cebu has filed a petition before the Regional Trial Court in Toledo City for a recount of the ballots cast during the May 9 local and national elections, citing the occurrence of electoral fraud.“This petition hopes to prove that indeed electoral fraud has become complicated using automation as the tool to thwart the will of the people,” said Salipada “Liplip” Cerna in the electoral protest on May 19, 2022.Cerna said in a press statement that he wants to be declared the winner if the recount results in getting more votes against his opponent Mayor-elect Jecjec Baricuatro, the wife of incumbent Pinamungajan Mayor Glenn Baricuatro.Mayor Baricuatro told SunStar Cebu on Sunday, May 29, that they respect the right of Cerna to file a protest, but he described the allegations of his wife’s opponents as absurd.“We believe we won in an honest and fair election. The Comelec and teachers and all who served during the elections were successful in preserving the sanctity of the ballots,” he said.“We will answer these allegations and protestations judiciously,” Mayor Baricuatro added.The race for mayor’s office in Pinamungajan was a two-cornered fight between Promdi’s Cerna and One Cebu Party’s Jecjec Baricuatro. Cerna lost by 1,964 votes to Baricuatro after garnering only 19,343 votes to the latter’s 21,307. Incumbent Mayor Baricuatro ran for vice mayor and defeated Cerna’s running mate Jun Yapha.Cerna’s petition was filed 19 days after the Municipal Board of Canvassers of Pinamungajan proclaimed Baricuatro as the winner of the electoral contest last May 10.The court was also asked by Cerna to void Baricuatro’s proclamation.Cerna is contesting all the 73 clustered precincts.‘Misreadings’“Aside from the massive ubiquitous vote buying, harassment, and employment of high-handed tactics such as arresting the key leaders of the Protestant and depriving them of their rights to vote, the vot(e) counting machine is being used to deprive the Municipality of Pinamungajan of the rightful Mayor to lead the municipality,” said Cerna.He cited hundreds of alleged “misreadings” by the vote counting machine (VCM).“They voted for Liplip Cerna but on the voter receipt, the one that appeared is Jecjec Baricuatro. They complained to the Board of Election inspector but only told that such technical problems would only be recorded in the minutes of the voting,” Cerna said.Attached to the complaint are 21 judicial affidavits representing different barangays attesting to the misreadings done by the VCM.Cerna also cited that no incidence of rejected ballots happened on Election Day in Pinamungajan. No election return was recorded as rejected. However, the Municipal Certificate of Canvass noted a total of 1,946 ballots were rejected.“These are massive votes automatically deducted by the vot(e) counting machine on its own and would greatly affect the outcome of the elections. Speculations may surmise automated fraud. But presumably, the one who benefits from this scheme is the administration candidates. And the only way to uncover it is by opening the ballots through revision,” he said.To determine if this has a factual basis, Cerna petitioned that the revision should proceed in an initial six barangays, namely: Poblacion, Binabag, Tupas, Camugao, Sibago, and Anopog.Cerna asked the court in case the revision results in getting him more votes than Baricuatro, that he be proclaimed the real winner in the May 9, 2022, elections.