TALISAY City Mayor Johnny de los Reyes accused the camp of Rep. Gerald Anthony “Samsam” Gullas (Cebu Province, first district) of sending students from a Gullas-owned university to register as voters in his city.

De los Reyes alleged that the 30-year-old congressman is I influencing some students in the University of the Visayas (UV) to register in Talisay for next year’s elections. He described the practice as a form of “hakot”.

Gullas, in a separate interview, denied the mayor’s allegation and accused him of tarnishing his reputation.

He explained that some students who registered in Talisay City merely sought his office’s help because they want to exercise their right to vote.

Both Gullas and de los Reyes are on their first term. Gullas replaced his grandfather, former congressman Eduardo Gullas, whom term limits barred from seeking reelection. The elder Gullas lost the mayoral elections to de los Reyes by fewer than 800 votes, one of the most surprising results of the 2013 elections in Talisay City (population: 200,772 as of 2010).

De los Reyes told reporters he was surprised to find out from some supporters that students from UV went to the City Election Office in droves to register for next year’s elections.

The mayor said that when his supporters asked where these new registrants lived, they couldn’t pinpoint a particular barangay in Talisay City.

De los Reyes also claimed that the students told some of his supporters they were sent there as part of their scholarship requirements.

The mayor said he planned to invite lawyer Gallardo Escobar, Talisay City’s election officer, to investigate the matter.

But in a separate interview, Congressman Gullas labelled the mayor’s claims as “offensive and malicious.”

Gullas, who is also UV’s assistant vice president for finance and administration and the manager of the school’s basketball team, said the allegations were meant to tarnish his image as well as that of his family’s university.

He urged De los Reyes to file a complaint before the Election Registration Board rather than resort to “political mudslinging.”

“We have legal procedures to follow if he feels he has been offended by some UV students who would want to exercise their right of suffrage. To me, to forestall, at the least, or deny these students their political rights is offensive, if not irrational,” Gullas added.