CAGAYAN de Oro city welcomed its new mayor Oscar Moreno with the exaltation of hundreds of supporters waiting outside the City Hall Tuesday, 24 hours after the elections closed at 7 p.m. Monday.
Moreno, the incumbent Governor of Misamis Oriental, won over the city’s incumbent leader, Mayor Vicente Emano by 17,853 votes.
Moreno gained 109,886 votes while Emano got 92,033 votes, ending Emano’s grip of power in the city for 15 years.
Emano, like Moreno, was a former Misamis Oriental governor and ran for the city’s top position in 1998.
The victory of Moreno over Emano, long considered as the political kingpin of Northern Mindanao and dubbed as a political enigma, came as a disappointment to many supporters who hoped for another term for Emano.
Moreno’s entry in the city, on the other hand, is likewise welcomed by many, especially among the upper middle class who are clamoring for a change in the leadership of the city.
Moreno’s sweeping victory against Emano is also seen as an end to a “dark time” in the city’s history.
Moreno has led Misamis Oriental for nine years as governor and six years as congressman.
However, lawyer Edgar Cabanlas, Moreno’s vice mayoralty partner, lost to incumbent vice mayor Cesar Ian Acenas.
Acenas domineered over Cabanlas with a 14,581 vote lead. Acenas garnered 95,649 votes against Cabanlas’ 81,068 votes.
Rolando Uy was also proclaimed winner for the city’s first congressional district with 48,026 votes against his closest rival and incumbent congressman Benjo Benaldo who got 27,482 votes.
Current second district congressman Rufus Rodriguez swept the city’s eastern congressional district with a vote of 87,071 bumping off Emano’s protégé Ian Mark Nacaya who only garnered 18,963 votes.
Moreno, Uy, and Rodriguez were proclaimed winners before 8 in the evening on Tuesday.
City Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer Palmer Palamine, acting chairman of the city board of election canvassers, declared the three winners after the city canvassed 96.4 percent of election returns.
Four compact flash (CF) cards were deferred after the consolidation and canvassing system failed to read the data containing the election returns.
Citing Comelec Resolution 9700 dated May 14, 2013, Moreno, Uy and Rodriguez were declared winners as the remaining votes (3.6 percent) cannot affect the outcome of the election.
Lawyer Francis Khu, lead counsel of Emano, welcomed the result.
It was, however, unclear if they will make any legal move against the outcome of the election.
City Prosecutor Fidel Macauyag, vice chair of the city board of election canvassers, said that the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine has changed the landscape of politics in the country.
Macauyag said that the quick results from the PCOS machine have made politicians and voters more mature.
“There is nothing in the PCOS that you can control, it has no mind to “cheat” and the result is highly credible,” Macauyag said.
Macauyag added that the PCOS has expedited the results and cheating has been removed, “Although vote-buying is still rampant,” Macauyag added.
Lawyer James Judith, one of the legal counsels of Liberal Party in CDO, said that the PCOS machine has proved that “command vote” is no longer a factor.
The powerful Iglesia ni Kristo church rooted for Emano and ordered its church members to vote for him and his team.
The Philippine Evangelical Network (Pen) which claimed to have 75,000 members in the city, also endorsed Emano, and even declared in its own survey that Emano led the election with high margin against Moreno.
“We have proven that voters are more mature now, they aim and thirst for change,” Judith said.
Comelec regional director Noli Pipo in a text message sent to this paper said that the PCOS machine has liberated the teachers and Comelec officials and staff from the stigma to being used as accessories to cheating.
“The Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) are freed from pressure, the counting done by machine yielded to no more misreading or doctored election returns,” Pipo said.
Pipo added that the counting is much faster, the consolidation and canvassing is done electronically, “No more doctored certificate of canvass,” Pipo said.
Pipo added that the candidates and their watchers have no means of knowing who the voters voted for, a prevalent case in the manual election, a means to harass voters who did not vote for favored politicians.
During their proclamation, Moreno, Uy, and Rodriguez declared that from then on, “no more Team Oca, but Team CDO.”
Standing shoulder to shoulder with the three is Max Rodriguez, Rufus’s brother, the first nominee of party-list Abante Mindanao, Inc. which is currently in the top 20 party-lists ranking in the elections.
Rodriguez said that the city will stand to benefit from the three’s program of development and more funds will be poured to the city as the three promised to work hand in hand.
After their proclamation, the three also hugged to the delight of the people inside the city’s session hall.
Moreno’s wife Arlene and daughter Imee were also present during the proclamation.
Rufus’ wife and daughter were also present while Uy’s entire family came with him to support his comeback to congress.
Vice Mayor–elect Cesar Ian Acenas however was not present during the proclamation.
Hundreds of supporters milled outside the city hall, enduring the rain while cheering and dancing to Moreno’s jingle “hapsay nga pang gobyerno,” and chanting “Yehey!” Moreno’s battle cry during the campaign period.
Healing and unity
For his part, mayor-elect Moreno said “now is the time for healing and the time to unite and to move forward together.”
“Thank you to the sovereign people of Cagayan de Oro. It’s God’s will, and if it is God’s will nobody can stop it,” he told reporters during his proclamation held at the City Council’s session hall.
Moreno emphasized that a lot of changes needs to be done in the city. He will participate in the transition to make sure that everything will run smooth beginning May 30.
“The people have spoken. They want to really change this administration. We will be working hard sa pagbag-o sa city, bag-ong adlaw, bag-ong paglaum ug bag-ong kalambuan (new day, new hope, and new progress),” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez emphasized that his winning is not easy since they worked and prayed hard and did not expect any other thing than win.
The City Board of Canvassers decided to re-convene today, Wednesday, at 10 a.m. for the proclamation of the winners of the city councilors’ slate and their ranking.