Batapa-Sigue says unlawful practices marred the midterm elections

SunStar File

“I CANNOT concede to a defeat in the elections controlled by money, manipulations, lies, deceits, marred with numerous unlawful practices, to which persons responsible simply turned a blind eye.”

This was stressed by defeated mayoral candidate Jocelle Batapa-Sigue after she was defeated by reelectionist Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia in the May 13 elections.

Batapa-Sigue of Asenso para sa Buas-damlag sang Bacolodnon Magbinuligay Kita sa Kauswagan (ABB-MKK) only got 81,248 votes while Leonardia garnered 144,776 votes.

“For the first time in history, massive vote buying activities were administered in all barangays in Bacolod by barangay officials the day before the elections. People were lining in the streets like ants waiting for their turn to receive money. Volunteers were calling and messaging about the vote-buying in their areas,” Batapa-Sigue said.

She said they have reported to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and to authorities, but they failed to act on it.

“The massive vote buying activities smoke-screened and diverted the public’s attention from the long queues, defective vote counting machines, secure digital cards, and ballots and the sudden power outages all over Bacolod in the afternoon,” she added.

Batapa-Sigue added that the power outages happened in big barangays in a sporadic manner in the afternoon, without prior announcement, without any weather disturbance, on Election Day.

Batapa-Sigue said that when she decided to run for office last October 7, 2018, she already knew that decision will be another life-changer for her.

“It was a decision I need to make because I believed in the vision of creating positive change for Bacolod. I already knew it will be extremely difficult, but I am made of a different stuff, my heart is fired up with ideas that I want to see come alive. That desire to hold in my hands proof of concepts that many can only imagine with their minds. I am challenged by the mission of re-inventing the city, making it smarter, stronger, humane and more inclusive,” Batapa-Sigue said.

She added that she survived seven months in an electoral process marked with a lot of extreme difficulties.

“This is not about winning or losing, this is about correcting the process,” she stressed.

“I wanted to move forward more positively and take the opportunity to share the messages I wish to spread. Today, I have long list or plans, programs and solutions that I wish to roll out. I am blessed to have met people who sincerely want to help bring about these programs to reality so we can witness positive changes around us. This is what I do best, bring people together to work on a mission. The next few years will be inspiring and exciting,” Batapa-Sigue said.

This year’s elections was dominated by Grupo Progreso led by Leonardia, reelectionists Congressman Greg Gasataya, Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran and their 11 candidates for councilor.

Only reelectionist Councilor Wilson Gamboa Jr. was the lone survivor of the ABB-MKK opposition group.

City Election registrar Ann Janette Lamban earlier said the malfunctioned vote counting machines (VCMs) did not affect the result of the elections.

Lamban said some polling precincts experienced technical problem, but they were able to fix it immediately.

“We have a contingency to fix our VCMs. This year’s election was generally very peaceful though we encountered some technical problem, but still we were able to make it,” she added.

Lamban noted that she also received some reports of alleged vote buying a day before the elections, but they were not able to locate them.

The Bacolod City Police Office also received reports of alleged vote buying, but it turned out negative.


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