BACOLOD, Philippines – Negros Oriental elected Bayawan City Mayor Pryde Henry Teves as its new governor.
Teves of the Nationalist People’s Coalition was proclaimed the winner by the provincial election officer on Tuesday afternoon, May 10. He garnered 296,897 votes against incumbent Governor Roel Degamo’s 277,462.
Degamo of the Nacionalista Party was gunning for his third and final term.
The fight may not be over, however. The incumbent governor is expected to protest the results and ask the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to invalidate votes for a third candidate with a similar name, and credit these to him.
An independent candidate who goes by the name of Ruel Degamo may have spoiled his reelection bid after securing 49,039 votes.
The governor said on his Facebook page that the votes for Ruel Degamo should be counted in his favor, due to “Ruel being a nuisance candidate.”
He also shared a copy of the Comelec decision on his petition to declare Ruel Degamo a nuisance candidate and to cancel Ruel’s certificate of candidacy.
The Comelec 2nd Division resolution was promulgated on December 16, 2021, and signed by Presiding Commissioner Socorro Inting and Commissioner Antonio Kho Jr.
It said that Ruel Degamo is known as Grego Gaudia and only used the nickname Ruel and surname Degamo for the 2022 elections.
The two Degamos would “necessarily confuse the voters and render worthless a vote for a Degamo during the appreciation of ballots, thus, preventing the determination of the choice and true will of the electorate,” the resolution said.
It also said that Ruel Degamo “clearly lacks the means to sustain a meaningful and viable campaign for his quest to the gubernatorial position” and that “what is clear here is that respondent knew for a fact that he does not stand a chance to win the elections but still moved forward towards a vain candidacy.”
The governor stressed that the votes cast for the nuisance candidate must be credited in favor of the legitimate candidate with a similar name to give effect to, rather than frustrate, the will of the voters. This should be the case, he said, even if the declaration of the nuisance candidate became final only after the elections.
Lawyer Lionil Castellano, provincial Comelec supervisor of Negros Oriental, said the issue to credit the votes of the nuisance candidate to the governor was not yet raised in the Comelec Board.
Meanwhile, the Liberal Party’s Vice Governor Mark Macias, who also gunned for the governorship, lagged behind with 44,522 votes.
Macias, in a Facebook post, said: “It does not look like it was meant to be. Still, we did what we thought needed to be done. To those who believed in our cause, thank you very much. Let us continue to help each other for our province and for our country. It is the only one that we have.” – Rappler.com