Mayor who won coin toss loses recount
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan, Philippines — The mayor of Araceli town in Palawan, who won through a coin toss, was ousted from office after a manual recount of election returns showed her actually losing by four votes.
Presiding Judge Anna Leah Tiongson-Mendoza of Regional Trial Court Branch 164 ruled in favor of Noel Beronio, who filed an election protest against Sue Cudilla on grounds of an “anomaly” on the ballots from the villages of Dalayawan and Taloto.
“After looking at the shades and marks, the will of the voters reflected as votes in the ballots are given effect. The votes are presumed to be made by the voters themselves and there is no reason to justify their rejection,” the judge said in a ruling on Tuesday.
The overall results from Araceli’s 16 barangays after the manual count of the election returns from Dalayawan and Taloto were added showed Beronio garnered 3,502 votes, while Cudilla got 3,498.
Obtaining more of the valid votes cast than Cudilla, Beronio was subsequently declared the winner in the May 2019 mayoral race.
“For almost eight months, we waited for the whole process. And finally, it’s here—I am the legitimate and true winner,” he said.
This would be the second consecutive term for Beronio, 54. He defeated Cudilla, 50, who was the incumbent mayor during the 2016 polls.
Beronio said he might file a motion in the Commission on Elections regarding the interruption of his term of office.
Race to 3
“We are still thinking about it. But for now, the important thing is we are back,” he said.
When Beronio and Cudilla each received 3,495 votes at the conclusion of the official tally in May 2019, the board of canvassers ordered the deadlock be broken through a coin toss.
The winner was the candidate who was the first to get three hits. This was won by Cudilla, who called it the “will of God.”
Cudilla declined to issue any statement but confirmed that her lawyers would appeal the decision.
The court decision becomes final and executory if no appeal is filed from either of the parties within five days.
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