Voters turn out in large numbers to choose Iggy Arroyo’s replacement
BINALBAGAN, Negros Occidental, Philippines—The rain on Saturday did not stop voters in the province’s fifth district from going to the polls to choose a congressman in the place of the late Ignacio Arroyo Jr.
Provincial Election Supervisor Jessie Suarez said 75 percent to 80 percent of the 206,521 registered voters in the fifth district participated in the special election for the congressional seat vacated by Arroyo, who died of cancer in January.
He also pointed out that the election was “very peaceful.”
The winner is expected to be proclaimed at the latest early Sunday, he added.
Negros Occidental Board Member Emilio Yulo III, 48, and his uncle, Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol, 58, were the only candidates gunning for the congressional of the 5th district, which is composed of Himamaylan City and the towns of Binalbagan, Hinigaran, Isabela, La Castellana and Moises Padilla.
The race was expected to be tight since both candidates enjoy the support of different political parties and families as well as the mayors in the district.
Mirasol, of the Liberal Party, has the backing of President Benigno Aquino, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the local party United Negros Alliance, Arroyo’s partner Grace Ibuna and the mayors of Hinigaran, Isabela, La Castellana, and Moises Padilla.
Yulo, of the Nacionalista Party, enjoys the support of Himamaylan Mayor Agustin Ernesto Bascon and several influential families in the fifth district, including Pulupandan Mayor Magdaleno Peña and Former Board Member Enrique Montilla.
Mirasol cast his vote at 9:20 a.m. in Precinct 176 A at Binalbagan Southern Elementary School in Binalbagan. Yulo voted in Precinct 78 at the Rumirang Elementary School in Isabela about 10:30 a.m.
Commission on Elections chairman Sixto Brillantes said the winner can assume his post on Monday but he will only have one year to serve because of the regular elections in May 2013. Filing of the certificate of candidacy for the regular elections will be in October.
Brillantes and Election Commissioners Armando Velasco and Christian Robert Lim were in Negros Occidental to observe the special election.
They were expected to stay in the province until the winner is proclaimed, which would be either on Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
Brillantes said the special election in the 5th district would be the last in the country before the May 2013 polls.
He admitted that the Comelec didn’t want to hold the special election in the 5th district because it was too close to the regular elections and would cost about P21.6 million to conduct it.
But he added the poll body had to comply with the resolution of the House of Representatives that called for a special election to replace Arroyo.
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