Echiverri questions Malapitan poll win

The camp of Rep. Enrico “Recom” Echiverri has filed a protest in the Commission on Elections questioning the victory of Caloocan Mayor-elect Oscar Malapitan, citing “rampant anomalies” before, during and after the May 9 polls.

In his complaint filed on May 20, Echiverri—who ran for the city’s top post against the incumbent mayor—said that Malapitan’s actions “cast doubt on the integrity of the results” of the elections.

In a statement sent to Inquirer, Echiverri cited instances of election-related violence perpetrated by his rival, along with rampant vote-buying, glaring irregularities in the ballots, the designation of Department of Public Safety and Traffic Management personnel from city hall as Comelec “deputies” and other violations.

In the May 9 elections, Malapitan garnered 301,867 votes compared to 172,278 for Echiverri, his closest rival, who got the backing of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Independent candidate Macario “Boy” Asistio was a distant third with 8,657 votes.

Caloocan City, which has a population of 600,000, registered a 70-percent voter turnout on May 9, said Nolan Sison, public information chief.

“I was truly appalled by the way incumbent Mayor Oca Malapitan conducted his campaign. From the onset, he made use of unfair means and his influence as the sitting mayor to his advantage. But he did not rest there. He blatantly and illegally used his connections with the administration to launch a deplorable and dishonorable bid for the seat,” Echiverri said.

Other supposed violations he cited were discrepancies in the names of voters as these appeared on the Comelec website and in the lists posted before and on Election Day and the suspicious number of cases of “overvoting” and “undervoting” in some polling precincts that favored Malapitan.

Echiverri stressed that he would not let the anomalies pass as “it was the mandate of the people of Caloocan that was compromised…”

Sought for comment, Sison called the electoral protest a futile and desperate (“suntok sa buwan”) act since the vote difference was too large. “It would be legitimate if the lead was only 1,500 votes,” he said. The incumbent mayor’s lead over his rival was 129,589 votes.

“This is just sour graping, mere propaganda,” Sison said, emphasizing that their camp did not have to buy votes since Malapitan had been leading in the surveys before the elections.  “Asking the Comelec to do a recount will just hurt Echiverri. It won’t change anything,” he added.

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