MANILA, Philippines – Former Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn will challenge incumbent Mayor Lucilo Bayron in the city's recall elections on May 8.
Hagedorn filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) with the city's Commission of Elections (Comelec) office on Tuesday morning, April 21. His wife Ma. Elena Hagedorn, his brother and Palawan 3rd District Representative Douglas Hagedorn accompanied the ex-mayor, while his supporters trooped outside.
The filing of COCs is until Wednesday, April 22. Bayron is automatically a candidate in the recall elections.
"It’s finally over. Marami ang nagsasabi na hindi matutuloy ang recall, pero heto na tayo. (Many were saying this recall election would not push through, but here we are.) Let’s go back to campaign mode," said Hagedorn after filing his COC.
The Comelec en banc scheduled the recall elections in Puerto Princesa a year and a day before the next national elections on May 9, 2016. It affirmed the validity of 22,326 signatures in the recall petition initiated by former city information officer Al Roben Goh in March 2014.
Goh sought the recall of Mayor Bayron due to alleged "loss of trust and confidence" in him by city residents.
Bayron and Hagedorn are relatives by marriage and were former political allies. In the 2013 polls, Bayron defeated Ma. Elena Hagedorn in the mayoral race.
Ahead of the polls, 3 known supporters of Bayron filed a plunder complaint with the Ombudsman against Hagedorn. Complainants Rodrigo Saucelo, Wilfredo Rama, and Antonio Lagrada accused the former mayor of "illegally reimbursing himself" around P65.7 million from December 2008 until December 2011, during his term as mayor. They based their raps on a report by the Commission on Audit (COA).
Hagedorn dismissed the plunder case, calling it a "cacophony of lies." He said it was "a blatant and desperate attempt to tar and wreck the reputation of possible opponents."
Hagedorn said he wants to be mayor again to arrest the "drastic drop in tourist arrivals, rise in criminality, proliferation of illegal drugs, and corruption in Puerto Princesa," which allegedly happened in the last 2 years that Bayron was chief executive.
He said he wants to "bring back the glory and prestige of Puerto Princesa."
The campaign period will run from April 23 to May 6. On election day, polling precincts will be open from 7 am to 3 pm. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, in a text message to Rappler, said that it will be a manual election.
Hagedorn served as mayor of Puerto Princesa City from 1992 to 2001 and from 2002 to 2013. His return in 2002 was through a recall election, replacing then-mayor Victorino Dennis Socrates.
Hagedorn ran for senator in the 2013 midterm elections, but lost. – Rappler.com