Lucilo Bayron keeps seat as Puerto Princesa mayor
PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The incumbent leader of Palawan's capital city will get to finish his first term as mayor.
With 44,299 votes, Lucilo Bayron was proclaimed the winner of the recall elections held on Friday, May 8.
Bayron got 5,297 more votes over his main challenger and former political ally Edward Hagedorn, who got a total of 39,002 votes.
It was Hagedorn's supporters who initiated the recall petition against Bayron in 2014 due to alleged "loss of trust and confidence" in his leadership.
Speaking to reporters after his proclamation as winner, Bayron thanked his supporters for going out to vote, despite the days of a politically-charged atmosphere in the city.
He also said he was open to reconciliation with Hagedorn, his former ally and relative by marriage. Bayron is the brother-in-law of Hagedorn's wife.
As of posting, Hagedorn has not yet issued a statement on the recall polls, according to his campaign manager Nardz Villafranca.
Asked about the reactions of the former mayor's camp, Villafranca replied: "We've seen the worst. Vote buying was rampant and visible."
He added that Hagedorn's camp reached the number of votes they were expecting, but alleged that their rivals engaged in illegal activities to deprive them of the votes.
Voting began in the city's polling precincts at 7 am on Friday, and ended at 3 pm.
The city board of canvassers convened at the provincial capitol at 6 pm, but the canvassing of votes went on for hours due to numerous objections raised by the counsels of the two main rivals.
At around 9:30 pm, the canvassers went on recess after a slight commotion broke out outside the canvassing area among the board of election inspectors lining up to submit election returns.
Many teachers, who served as poll inspectors, were frustrated about the long line; some complained that they were tired after a long day of conducting the polls.
The Hagedorn camp also filed a petition early Saturday, May 9, seeking to stop the canvassing proceedings due to the "patently illegal" acts allegedly committed by the city board of canvassers.
The petition said the board of canvassers "impulsively rushed its rulings" on the objections raised regarding the election returns in 11 cluster precincts.
But in a ruling issued 6:30 am on May 9, the board, chaired by Gloria Ramos-Petallo, denied the petition.
Petallo said the election returns sought to be excluded had already been canvassed, and that the grounds for the objections of the petitioners were merely formal defects.
Petallo told Rappler that the petitioner raised as an objection the lack of paper seals on the ballot boxes.
Speaking to Rappler, Villafranca said the group will no longer challenge the ruling after their earlier objection was denied.
More than 83,000 voters trooped to polling precincts on Friday to cast their ballots, in an election described by the Comelec as "generally peaceful."
But poll monitoring watchdogs noted several problems in the conduct of the polls, such as the presence of flying voters, the rampant vote buying, and the delisting of voters.
The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said the canvassing of votes "went well" although it took 10 hours.
The group noted that the delay was caused by the numerous petitions filed by the lawyers of Bayron and Hagedorn, seeking to exclude from canvassing several election returns suspected of being tampered.
"Petitions were based on missing inner paper seal, missing statistical data, missing thumbmarks and allegations of fraud, tampering of the ERs," the group said on its Twitter account.
LENTE also said that the missing requirements in the preparation of the ERs showed lack of training for the election inspectors.
But the group added that it was "understandable" because of the limited time to prepare for the recall polls. – Rappler.com