Bacolod mayor in disbelief over defeat
BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines —Mayor Evelio Leonardia described as “simply mysterious and unbelievable” his defeat by his billionaire opponent, businessman Alfredo “Albee” Benitez, in this city.
“The manner of treating the casting of votes, the reports given to us by our poll watchers, and the unusual and questionable malfunctioning of a number of VCMs [vote counting machines] all raised questions on the fair conduct of the elections as well as the credibility and accuracy of the electronic transmission and delivery of the votes from the precincts to the Comelec [Commission on Elections] canvassing center,” Leonardia said.
The Bacolod City Board of Canvassers on Tuesday proclaimed Benitez the winner in the mayoralty race with 171,893 votes against Leonardia’s 107,447 votes.
Leonardia said the vote count showed that Benitez won in areas the incumbent mayor considered his bailiwicks.
In a statement to the people of Bacolod, Leonardia said he and many of their Grupo Progreso (GP) supporters were still in shock over the results of the May 9 local elections.
“For now, we will leave the matter to our legal team. It will be up to the lawyers to study and look into possible legal remedies so that we can have the vote-counting machines rechecked to satisfy the questions raised by the GP slate and all our supporters,” he said.
“They chorused that the results are mysterious and unbelievable,” he added.
Since the start of the campaign period, Leonardia said GP sorties and caucuses, whether held during the day or night, attracted huge enthusiastic crowds without resorting to “hakot,” the practice of ferrying potential supporters to rallies.
During their pre-opening salvo caravan, GP supporters allegedly set a record-high crowd, which the Bacolod Traffic Authority Office called “the longest ever held in the city.”
Leonardia also said the GP “miting de avance” on May 7 was another record-breaking feat that drew a mammoth crowd.
Leonardia thanked all those who stayed during the good and most challenging times, his supporters, and his family “for being there for me every step of the way.”