IT SEEMS the electoral contest for the mayoral and vice mayoral seats in Lapu-Lapu City is far from over.
Former congressman and mayor Arturo “Boy” Radaza and his nephew, Harry Don Radaza, formally filed an election protest against Lapu-Lapu City mayor-elect Junard “Ahong” Chan and vice mayor-elect Celsi Sitoy at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc in Manila on Friday, May 24, 2019, the last day for the filing of electoral protests.
This is the first electoral protest in Cebu after the May 13 midterm elections.
The Radazas, who have ruled Lapu-Lapu City for the past two decades, earlier expressed “shock” when Pajo barangay captain Chan defeated Arturo by over 19,868 votes. Radaza got 66,108 votes while Chan got 85,976 votes.
Don Radaza, who was vying for the vice mayoral post, lost to Sitoy by 5,592 votes. Sitoy garnered 70,533 votes over Radaza’s 64,941 votes.
The elder Radaza is the husband of incumbent Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza, who won the congressional seat in last week’s elections against three candidates.
The Radaza camp, represented by lawyer Zandro Ronnie Oriol, said the protest questions the missing 19,713 votes unaccounted for in 84 clustered precincts in the city.
Oriol said of the 214,117 total registered voters in the city, 177,717 voted during last Monday’s elections. Of this, 158,004 were the total voters for the five mayoral candidates.
Oriol said the Radazas were perplexed where the 19,713 votes went.
For the vice mayor’s seat, it registered a total of 150,053 votes for the five candidates and Oriol said they were also perplexed where the 27,664 votes went.
Aside from this, the group claimed they also received complaints from supporters that they voted for Radaza but ended up with Chan and Sitoy in their receipts.
They also alleged several vote counting machines (VCMs) broke down but the voting process continued while teachers stacked the ballots which they later entered. Oriol said this did not follow the election procedure.
Oriol said because of these electoral violations, they will call for the annulment of the proclamation of Chan and Sitoy of Team Libre, as the statement of votes was still lacking when they were declared.
They also want a manual recount of votes to trace what they suspect were “lost” unaccounted for votes.
“Eighty-four clustered precincts is a substantial figure that supposedly could not have been or there should not have been a proclamation kay dili man kompleto (because it is not complete),” Oriol said.
The elder Radaza said he initially did not intend to file a protest because he was aware of the financial cost it would entail, but he was buoyed up by his supporters who plan to donate for the expenses.
“Bahala maabtan pa ni ug sunod election o ba kaha molapas pa ang sunod election. Basta ang akoa ani mogawas gyud ang kamatuoran,” Radaza said. (I don’t care if this will reach the next election or the succeeding elections. What is important for me is for the truth to come out.)
Chan, for his part, said it was Radaza’s right to file the protest, but he urged the latter to “move on” and accept his fate instead.
“The Oponganons have decided. They want change. I therefore advise Mr. Radaza to respect and accept the overwhelming mandate of the people of Lapu-Lapu City and move on,” Chan said.
Adelino Sitoy, former Cordova mayor and brother of vice mayor-elect Celsi Sitoy, said the move of the Radazas is a last-ditch effort to save their waning political clout in the city.
“Mura ra na ug sa boxing pa nga ug maigo mabungog. Mao nay nahitabo nila.” (It’s like in boxing that once you get hit, you will hear a deafening noise. That’s what happened to them.)
Sitoy added that it should have been they who will file a protest since Chan and his brother got only a minimal lead against the Radazas. / (from GCM of SuperBalita Cebu/VLA)