The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday proclaimed Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron as the winner in the recall elections held in the city on Friday.
Commissioner Arthur Lim said Bayron was proclaimed at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday.
Lim said that Bayron won by a margin of almost 5,000 votes.
Bayron, who garnered 44,299 (53 percent) votes versus former mayor Edward Hagedorn’s 39,002 (47 percent) was proclaimed winner by Gloria G. Ramos-Petallo, provincial election supervisor of Batangas, and chairman of the Board of Canvassers in the Puerto Princesa City recall elections.
Out of 127,162 registered voters in Puerto Princesa City, 83,301 or 65.5 percent went out Friday to participate in the recall poll.
The boards of election inspectors (BEI) started counting the ballots 3 p.m. Friday.
The first batch of ballot boxes arrived at the Victoriano J. Rodriguez Multi-Purpose Hall at the provincial capitol compound shortly before 6 p.m..
However, the members of the City BOC did not commence the canvassing until around 8 p.m. when the other ballot boxes started arriving from voting centers in outskirt barangays.
Members of the City BOC explained that the delay was also due to various groups that had camped outside the capitol compound gate, the return of BEIs of election paraphernalia to the Comelec, alleged attempt of the Hagedorn camp to stop the canvassing due to suspected tampered ballot boxes and missing BEI signatures on election returns, and threats of protest outside of the canvassing venue.
Commissioner Lim said they were happy since they were able to conduct a peaceful recall polls.
“There was no election-related violence because of the smooth cooperation with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, Department of Education and the City Treasurer’s Office,” Lim said.
He added, “We are still here (Palawan) ni Commissioner Christian Robert Lim to oversee, monitor and give support to our local election people…It was a collective effort and successful. The presence of media helped to ensure clean and credible result.”
Lim noted that a total of 29 candidates participated in the polls including former Mayor Edward Hagedorn.
“Dalawa lang kasi and naglaban, yung ibang candidates wala naman nakuhang boto (There were only two real contenders as the other candidates did not even get a single vote),” he said.
Asked on the allegations that vote buying and vote selling were prevalent during the recall polls, Lim urged the people to file a complaint before the poll body.
“Hindi naman maiiwasan ‘yung reports na ganyan everytime meron halalan tayo. Allegation is not proof. The Comelec is ready, willing, capable to entertain, resolve complaints of that nature. Kung meron man kailangan isampa sa Comelec as election offense and we will act accordingly,” he said.
The recall petition against Bayron was initiated by former city administrator Alroben Goh, citing the city’s supposed loss of trust and confidence in the mayor.
The recall petition was signed by 40,409 registered voters of Puerto Princesa. Only 19,335 signatures were needed for recall proceedings to push through.
The recall of an elective official shall be effective upon the election and proclamation of a successor who received the most number of votes during the recall polls.
Speaking to reporters after his proclamation, Bayron said the recall poll did not incite anxiety in him at all because he was sure he would.
“Maybe for five months we can unite, thereafter, we can fight again, no problem. It’s okay with me; anyway, politics is really like that,” Bayron said.
Bayron added that he is also “always open” to talk to Hagedorn, and that it is “maybe time to reconcile.”
Asked if he still has an ax to grind against Hagedorn, he said, “I don’t know about him, maybe he has against me.”
Asked if the recall poll made him nervous, Bayron was confident in saying he “slept early,” because his own camp’s quick count had comfortably given him the “picture” he wanted to see the night before.
“Sa ating pag-iikot, confident naman tayo na mananalo tayo sa laban na ito. Pero ang ini-expect ko nga mas malaki pa, but whatever reason, iyon ang naging kalamangan natin so, bastante na iyon (In the rounds that we made, we’re confident that we will win this fight. But I was actually expecting to win by a large margin, however, for whatever reason, that was how much we won, and that is enough),” he stated.