TUGUEGARAO CITY—The election officer of Santa Ana, Cagayan, on Sunday bewailed what she called the “unkind treatment” she received at the hands of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and his nephew, Jose Mari Ponce, on the last day for voter registration on Oct. 31.
In a telephone interview, Edna Tacazon, 61, said that Enrile, in her presence, called up Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. to have her removed from her post when she “was just doing her job.”
“Boy, I want this girl out of my district,” Tacazon quoted Enrile as telling Brillantes. “Boy” is Brillantes’ nickname.
Ponce, administrator of the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority, allegedly threatened to sue Tacazon for refusing his request to register two women at 8:45 p.m. on Wednesday—nearly six hours past the 3 p.m. registration cutoff time.
“He pointed at me and said he would sue me. I said I would welcome it because it is his right to do so,” Tacazon said.
Santa Ana government employees said that Enrile, who was on vacation at a family resort at Gotan beach in the town, arrived at the town hall at around 2 p.m. and was greeted by about 200 people awaiting enlistment.
Enrile, they said, proceeded to the Comelec office and confronted Tacazon about reports that she had refused to give out registration forms to would-be registrants.
“Senator Enrile dialed his phone and asked the person on the other line to transfer me, and then he handed me the phone. It turned out it was our chairman (Brillantes),” Tacazon said.
She said she explained to Brillantes that it was simply taking a long time to register all the people because of the last-day rush and they had only one computer.
She said that before Enrile left, he told her: “Ayusin mo buhay mo. Huwag kang mamumulitika (Get yourself right. Don’t play politics).”
In a phone interview, Enrile confirmed the confrontation, saying that barangay (village) officials had rushed to Gotan beach to report that Tacazon was refusing to give out registration forms.
Enrile said word reached him that Mayor (Darwin) Tobias suspected that those in line were going to vote for his opponent and allegedly ordered the registration forms not be distributed.
He said he learned that Tacazon had a son who would be running under the mayor’s ticket and an assistant whose husband was running for a local post in Santa Ana.
Ponce denied demanding that two women be registered that night.
“I went to the Comelec office to check on the outcome of the last day of registration on the instructions of the Senate President. On the way, I met these two young ladies who said they had been waiting since morning but still failed to register,” he said. Reports from Melvin Gascon, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Cathy Yamsuan