MANILA, Philippines -- Priest-turned-gubernatorial hopeful Ed Panlilio Wednesday called on his supporters to mount prayer vigils near the election canvassing venues against a ?seeming grand scheme to thwart the outcome of the elections in Pampanga.?
?Democracy is in peril in Pampanga,? he told reporters.
His appeal was prompted by Board Member Lilia Pineda?s early claim to victory, which also triggered criticisms from a third candidate, reelectionist Gov. Mark Lapid.
?The right authority to do that is the provincial board of canvassers. We have to follow proper procedures,? Panlilio said.
He said delays, power interruptions, vote-buying, ballot-snatching, the stoppage of canvassing in several towns, intentional misreading of results and dagdag-bawas (vote-shaving and -padding) had happened right in the home province of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and right in her home district where her son, Juan Miguel, is the representative.
As of 4:11 p.m. Wednesday, tabulations by the National Citizens? Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in 2,001 precincts showed Panlilio getting 127,843 votes; Pineda, 126,609, and Lapid, 111,519.
Panlilio, 53, said he considered it ?improper? for Pineda to make the victory announcement.
Pineda announced her supposed win through her running mate, Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao, in a press conference in the City of San Fernando.
Surrounded by 15 candidates of the Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi) party, Guiao showed reporters what he claimed were official copies of election returns.
Pineda, he said, won by 10,280 votes over Panlilio, an independent candidate.
Guiao said the election returns, which covered ?97 to 98 percent? of votes, tallied 198,107 votes for Pineda, 187,827 for Panlilio, and 176,962 for Lapid.
Guiao said he garnered 241,102 votes and won against Lapid?s running mate, Paul Tristan Laus.
He said Kampi obtained the documents through Liberal Party provincial chair Francisco Gaddi, a Kampi ally. The LP, as a dominant political party, is allowed by the Commission on Elections to get copies of the ERs.
Guiao said the early announcement was made to thank Kampi supporters, to stop all speculations on the outcome of Monday?s elections, and to end ?inaccurate reporting in the media.?
Asked by the Philippine Daily Inquirer who among journalists made supposed inaccurate reports, Guiao named television networks GMA 7 and ABS-CBN that ?tended to create a trend? on who was winning through independent but unofficial counts.
Pineda did not attend the press conference because she was advised by Kampi leaders to take a rest instead, he said.
Lapid, 28, felt offended by the announcement.
?In fairness to the people of Pampanga, no parties should at this time come forward to claim victory,? he said, speaking through his chief campaigner Fidel Arcenas. ?Pineda is not the Comelec. She could cite figures but she is not the Comelec.?
He said the contest was ?still close to call.?
Supporters of Panlilio organized a 6 p.m. Mass in front of the Bren Z. Guiao Convention Center where the provincial canvassing began Wednesday afternoon to appeal for ?honest and just? canvassing.
One of his supporters, businessman Rene Romero, said the vigils could grow into protest rallies as expressions of indignation against election fraud and the supposed victory of Pineda, wife of alleged gambling lord Rodolfo ?Bong? Pineda.
ISABELA: Padaca, Dy claim victories
The camps of reelectionist Gov. Maria Gracia Cielo Padaca and her rival, former Gov. Benjamin Dy, have both claimed victory in the gubernatorial race in Isabela province.
Padaca on Wednesday clarified reports that she was losing. In 2004, she foiled the reelection bid of Dy?s brother, former Gov. Faustino Dy Jr.
Padaca warned of possible vote-shaving by her opponents to overhaul her slim lead in the latest unofficial count. She said her biggest concern was the lack of lawyers that would guard her votes in the official canvassing.
She noted that she was reported to be trailing in the third district where, she admitted, Dy made a strong showing.
According to her camp?s own monitoring in 28 towns, Padaca was leading by about 34,000 votes.
Padaca was confident that Dy?s expected lead in Cauayan City and other towns in the third district would be offset by her lead in other districts.
According to a partial and unofficial result from Namfrel Wednesday, Padaca received 53,370 votes while Dy got 52,479. The figures came from 13 towns.
In the Comelec count that started on Tuesday night, Padaca received 29,347 votes while Dy got 22,686. The results, as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, came from canvassed statements of votes in eight towns.
Dy said his victory would have been ensured if not for the alleged manipulation of votes done by the camp of Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, Padaca?s ally in the first district.
Albano said he went to Metro Manila after Monday?s elections and was recuperating from an illness. ?So how can [Dy] claim that I am rigging votes in favor of Governor Padaca?? he asked.
NUEVA ECIJA: Josons in peril
The hold of the Joson clan on the top elective position in Nueva Ecija province is in danger after partial and unofficial results from Namfrel and the PPCRV showed Vice Gov. Mariano Cristino Joson trailing Rep. Aurelio Umali in the gubernatorial race.
Results from eight towns and one city showed Umali receiving 117,734 votes and Joson getting 84,975. The results came from Aliaga, Zaragoza, Bongabon, Gabaldon, Laur, Sta. Rosa, Gen. Tinio and Peñaranda towns and Palayan City.
Joson belongs to the Bagong Lakas ng Nueva Ecija (Balane) and Kampi. Balane, the dominant political party in the province, was formed by the Joson patriarch, the late Gov. Eduardo Joson, in 1987. Mariano Cristino is the current chair of Balane.
Joson?s running mate, Board Member Edward Thomas Joson, his nephew, was leading Jose ?Popoy? Taruc, 97,297 votes to 82,488.
It was not also a good showing for outgoing Gov. Tomas Joson III, brother of Mariano Cristino and who is running for mayor of Cabanatuan City. He was trailing by more than 10,000 votes against Alvin Vergara, a cousin of outgoing Mayor Julius Cesar Vergara.
In the tabulation conducted by the city government, Tomas III received 33,610 votes while Vergara had 44,215.
Two other Josons -- Eduardo Joson IV, who is running for representative of the third district, and former Gov. Eduardo Nonato Joson, who is running for representative of the first district -- were trailing.
ILOCOS NORTE: Marcos magic at work
The so-called Marcos magic seems to be working for Board Member Michael Keon, who is leading the gubernatorial race against former Gov. Rodolfo Fariñas.
Based on the PPCRV count as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, Keon was leading with 92,856 votes over Fariñas? 54,209. The results were taken in 16 towns where counting of votes have been completed.
Votes from Laoag City and six other towns, however, have only been counted partially. The city, with close to 60,000 registered voters, is considered the Fariñases? bailiwick.
Keon is the son of former Ilocos Norte Gov. Elizabeth Marcos-Keon, the younger sister of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Keon?s cousin and outgoing Gov. Ferdinand ?Bongbong? Marcos Jr. is merely waiting for the votes in the second district to be canvassed before he can be proclaimed representative. He ran unopposed.
CAMARINES SUR: Dato rival concedes
The small town politician, who ran against Ms Arroyo?s son, Diosdado ?Dato? Arroyo, Wednesday conceded defeat in the congressional race in the first district of Camarines Sur although the results of canvassing had yet to arrive at the Comelec office in Naga City.
Mayor Sabas Mabulo of San Fernando town, a candidate of the Liberal Party, said he had learned that running against a formidable opponent needed a much longer preparation time for the advocacy of politics of volunteerism to work.
Mabulo said he only won in Pasacao and his hometown. The first district has 10 towns and at least 180,000 registered voters.
?Despite massive vote-buying and deployment of the Army, we still exceeded the opponents expectation by giving me 15 percent of the total votes cast even though we had reached only 40 percent of the registered voters,? he said.
Based on unofficial tallies of the Namfrel in 8,476 precincts as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Arroyo had 66,556 votes and Mabulo, 41,248.
Arroyo is the official candidate of Kampi.
In the three other districts, the President?s allies were also leading in the Namfrel count.
Incumbent Rep. Felix Alfelor (Kampi) was leading in the fourth district with 23,434 votes. His rival, Diones Belza (Lakas-CMD) got only 5,439.
Based on Comelec results as of Wednesday noon, Rep. Luis R. Villafuerte (Kampi) garnered 16,511 votes in the second district, while his opponent, Sulpicio S. Roco Jr. (Aksyon Demokratiko) got only 8,863 votes in the towns of Bombon, Magarao, Camaligan and Gainza.
Rep. Luis Villafuerte?s son, Gov. Luis Raymund ?LRay? Villafuerte Jr. (Lakas-CMD), earned 144,938 votes in the four towns of the second district. His opponent, Eduardo Pilapil (Kampi), garnered 55,737.
Incumbent Vice Gov. Salvio Fortuno (Lakas-CMD) was also leading with 105,404 votes, followed by Felipe Gerado Ortega (Kampi), with 58,078.
CEBU: Tommy Osmeña wins
Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña got a fresh mandate for a third term after his strongest opponent, barangay chair Mary Ann de los Santos, conceded defeat on Tuesday.
?I have given Cebu City an alternative. So, I let democracy work in the city of Cebu. And the people have spoken. And I believe that they still want Mayor Osmeña to rule the city of Cebu,? De los Santos said.
She said she would support projects that would redound to the benefit of the city.
Provincial Board Member Luigi Quisumbing (Lakas-CMD) is expected to topple Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz (Kampi) in the sixth district.
Former Gov. Vicente de la Serna, who also ran in the congressional race, claimed that Quisumbing would be declared the winner because of massive vote-buying. He alleged that the Quisumbing camp spent P500 to 1,000 per voter.
Both Quisumbing and Soon-Ruiz claimed victory. Reports from Tonette Orejas and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; Melvin Gascon, Villamor Visaya Jr. and Cristina Arzadon, Inquirer Northern Luzon, and Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas