GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines—The Department of the Interior and Local Government on Monday booted out Mayor Jose Zamorro of Maasim town, Sarangani province and installed Vice Mayor Uttoh Salem Cutan as acting mayor.
Flor Limpin, DILG Sarangani provincial head, said she was ordered by the regional office to install Cutan pending the official proclamation of Arturo Lawa as the official winner of the 2010 mayoral race.
Zamorro’s supporters held a protest but failed to prevent Cutan’s takeover.
Reached for comment, Zamorro said he will be contesting the order before the court.
Limpin said the DILG’s action was based on the decision made by the Commission on Elections en banc in October, which voided Zamorro’s proclamation as mayor and recognized Lawa as the rightful winner.
The Comelec had said it based its decision on the fact that the municipal board of canvassers (MBOC) failed to count the actual votes cast in one of the clustered precincts due to a transmission error.
What the MBOC had counted, the Comelec said, were votes cast during the mock elections or during the testing and sealing of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine in the polling precinct.
In the MBOC tally, Zamorro got 5,321 votes against Lawa’s 5,306 votes.
In the certified election returns from the precinct, however, Lawa garnered 136 votes while Zamorro only got 62 votes. This would have made Lawa the overall winner.
The error had been pointed out early on by Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting but the MBOC went on with Zamorro’s proclamation.
Limpin said Lawa would eventually sit as mayor once he was proclaimed by the MBOC.
While waiting for Lawa’s official proclamation, Cutan must assume as acting mayor to avoid power vacuum in accordance with the law of succession, she said.
“I’m glad justice eventually prevailed,” Lawa said when sought for comment.