Chavit son wins Ilocos Sur poll
VIGAN CITY—Vice Mayor Ryan Luis Singson was proclaimed winner in the special congressional election in Ilocos Sur’s first district held on Saturday, succeeding his brother, Ronald, who resigned after being convicted of cocaine trafficking in Hong Kong in February.
Singson, 30, son of Ilocos Sur Gov. Luis “Chavit” Singson, got 71,955 votes against his lone opponent, lawyer Beltrand Baterina, who got 30,445. He was proclaimed by the provincial board of canvassers at the provincial board’s session hall early morning on Sunday.
Marino Salas, Ilocos Sur election officer, said the 63.5-percent voter turnout in the first district was “good,” considering that only about 60 percent of registered voters in the country generally cast their votes during special polls.
The first district of Ilocos Sur, which covers the capital Vigan City and 10 towns, has 161,975 registered voters.
Singson, who ran under his father’s local party, Bileg, credited his party mates and the party’s machinery for his victory.
“We really worked hard in the 12-day campaign period and did not underestimate our opponent,” Singson said in a press briefing at the Singson family’s Baluarte compound here on Saturday night.
With Singson’s election, the vice mayoral seat would be occupied by Councilor Lourdes Baquiran, the top councilor of Vigan.
Salas said the vacancy that would be left in the 10-member city council would be filled in by a member of Singson’s party.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes observed the conduct of the special election in Ilocos Sur on Saturday. He was accompanied by Commissioner Elias Yusoph, the supervisor for special elections.
“The special elections in Ilocos Sur is considered peaceful and clean,” Yusoph told reporters over the phone.
He said the canvassing of votes ended past Saturday midnight and the winner was proclaimed around 1 a.m.
Comelec and police officials did not report any incident of election-related violence during the conduct of the special election.
The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) also said the special poll was “peaceful, with no reports of violence or any untoward incident.”
However, Namfrel said its volunteers reported rampant vote buying in the days leading to Saturday’s poll.
“In Vigan, for example, representatives from barangays reportedly went house to house even as late as May 26 (last day of the campaign) to give money in exchange of votes,” said Namfrel.
Namfrel’s provincial chair reported that last week, barangay officials themselves were giving away money in exchange for votes for one of the candidates.
“Our chair also reported that the amount given to barangay captains was P3,000; P2,000 for barangay councilors; and P250 for heads of families. There was no report of whether votes were bought in kind,” Namfrel said in its report.
In Sta. Catalina town, the Namfrel provincial chair was asked on Saturday morning by a local Namfrel coordinator to not send volunteers anymore.
“Namfrel has always condemned the use of money politics in elections, and the utilization of barangays in vote buying, especially since barangays are supposed to be nonpartisan,” the watchdog said in a statement.