MANILA, Philippines -- Reelectionist Mayor Jejomar Binay and his entire ticket were proclaimed winners early Thursday, sweeping all elective posts in the financial capital, 20-0.
Binay emerged as the victor in the mayoral race by an overwhelming margin, capturing 198,814 of the votes cast from the city?s two districts against administration Senator Manuel "Lito" Lapid's 22,462.
His other little-known opponent, Elias Dulalia, had 1,243 votes, based on the final count of all 1,834 precincts canvassed at the Makati Coliseum by the local Commission on Elections office.
"The message of Makati is clear: In a democracy, it is the people who will judge their leaders," Binay said. "Malacañang clearly misread the pulse of the people of Makati."
Lapid?s candidacy was widely believed as an administration strategy to rid Makati of Binay, a bitter political foe of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
"More importantly, we showed the entire Philippines that we are prepared to defend our city's freedom," he said, referring to the national government's efforts to evict him prior to the elections.
On May 4, Binay was served a suspension order in connection with a complaint filed in the Office of the Ombudsman by a political rival who had accused him of keeping ghost employees.
Two days earlier, the Bureau of Internal Revenue froze the city's bank accounts in what it said was an effort to recover P1.1 billion in unpaid withholding taxes.
But the Arroyo administration backtracked after the twin moves elicited criticism. It deferred the implementation of the suspension order until after the polls and lifted the freeze order on all but one of the banks holding the city's funds.
In the vice mayoralty contest, Binay's running mate Ernesto Mercado got 151,431 votes and was proclaimed vice mayor. His opponent, Nemesio Yabut Jr., got 48,456 votes.
All the candidates for councilmen in Binay?s ticket, including his reelectionist son District 1 Councilor Jejomar Erwin, were also proclaimed winners.
Mayor Binay?s daughter, Marlen Abigail, was proclaimed winner in the second congressional district after garnering a total of 70,904 votes. Her opponent Erwin Genuino, son of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. president and CEO Ephraim Genuino, got 41,191.
Anthony, Genuino?s son, also ran for district 1 councilor but did not make it to the top eight.
Reelectionist Representative Teodoro Locsin Jr. was declared winner in the first congressional district after he garnered 85,958 votes. Former councilor Oscar Ibay got 17,489 votes.
Shiela Rojas, election officer of Makati's second district and chair of the local board of canvassers, proclaimed the winners at about 6 a.m., after a whole night devoted to canvassing, tabulating and adding up the votes.
Hours before, Lakas-Kampi Makati campaign manager Bong Ferrer said they would try to stop the proclamation on the basis of an electoral protest they had filed with the Comelec shortly after Monday?s polls.
"We have evidence that there was massive vote buying and cheating committed by the other camp, and we are prepared to present these in the proper forum," he said.
A crowd of about 150 supporters of the Genuinos crowded the gates of the coliseum and started a program accusing Binay's camp of robbing their candidates of victory.
But by midnight, the crowd had thinned to a few handfuls, and were all gone at dawn.
When the winning candidates were proclaimed at a little before 6 a.m., Ferrer and the lawyers for his party were also nowhere to be found.
Binay, surrounded by bodyguards and aides, entered the coliseum just moments after the canvassing in district 2 closed, eliciting scattered cheers from supporters, mostly poll watchers.
The members of his ticket, including his wife, former Mayor Elenita Binay, Abigail, Jun-Jun, and other family relatives, started streaming into the coliseum.
But they had to wait another hour for the proclamation, as the totaling of the votes for district 1 took longer than expected.
What slowed down the tabulation, Rojas said, was the commotion over the incidents of alleged vote padding, in which figures were allegedly added to the total of Anthony Genuino's votes in three summaries of votes.
Reden Villanueva, a poll watcher for newly elected Councilor Luis Javier, was the first to notice the alleged discrepancy, in which what was supposed to be "867" votes was changed into "1,867."
Two other poll watchers reported similar alleged vote-padding incidents, in which "990," was converted to "1,990," and "1,000" became "1,800."
Ferrer, however, said the incidents could either be an "honest mistake," or a "set-up," to make it appear their camp was cheating.
To the objections of some lawyers present, Rojas did not order the complete rechecking of all summaries of votes for discrepancies, and instead, just asked the tabulators to recompute the figures.