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Incumbent barangay chair accused of using flying voters wins by 11 votes

But despite defeat in tight contest at Pasay City’s Barangay 97, losing bet has no intention of filing protest

INCUMBENT VS NEWCOMER In a hotly contested race that saw their respective poll watchers and lawyers locked in heated debates on election day, Barangay 97 Chair Serafico Ang (left) bested his toughest rival, Yok Tin So, to clinch a third term. —GRACE CABUNAG AND CHRISTIAN BARCENAS FB ACCOUNTS

The incumbent chair of Barangay 97 in Pasay City accused by a political rival of coddling 1,458 alleged flying voters won his bid for reelection by a razor-thin margin of 11 votes.

Based on the results coming from the city’s Commission on Elections (Comelec), Serafico Ang secured a third term by garnering 657 votes against Yok Tin So’s 646 votes in Monday’s polls.

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Barangay 97 — which, at 5 hectares, is even smaller than the SM Mall of Asia Arena — was transformed in February into an unlikely testing ground for how flying voters, an issue that has long plagued local elections, could be eradicated.

This was after So, represented by high-profile election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, filed the first-ever criminal complaint against the supposed 1,458 flying voters.

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However, observers said the move may have backfired because the case has yet to be resolved in the Pasay City Prosecutor’s Office.

As a result, the names of the questioned voters remained on the official Comelec list.

So’s complaint alleged that 260 voters gave an address that turned out to be Ang’s — 2713 Zamora St.

In addition, the address listed by 275 others was discovered to be a Light Rail Transit station.

No involvement

A lawyer for Ang, however, categorically denied his involvement with flying voters.

“[My sister] knew that when you have an opponent, you need to be ready to win or lose,” Barangay 97 Councilor Edith Manguerra, So’s sister, told the Inquirer on Tuesday.

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“Her [So] only fear was the flying voters,” Manguerra said, adding that her sister’s supporters were “100 percent” certain that Ang’s win was thanks to nonresidents — over 100 of them — by her count.

But her sister was not planning to file a protest because it could take up to six months to resolve it.

“[Ang] has only two years to serve. So we said, ‘Let’s let him have this.’ It’s his last term anyway,” Manguerra said. “Next time, we will fight again.”

However, one of So’s lawyers, Ace Bautista, said that all options were still being studied, including filing an election protest.

Even as Ang celebrated his victory, his lawyer said they were also studying the possibility of filing a criminal case against at least 12 poll watchers who allegedly barred several residents from voting.

Disenfranchised

“[Ang] is saddened that a lot of voters got disenfranchised and weren’t allowed to vote,” said Richard Joseph Doria, who added that many them were first-time registrants and children of longtime Barangay 97 residents.

These voters, Doria said, were subjected to “bully tactics, intimidation and harassment” by poll watchers, who could face up to six years in prison for violating the Omnibus Election Code should Ang file a complaint against them.

He said their camp felt “victimized” because of the poll watchers’ aggressive tactics. He added that at one point, he had to stand between a group of bickering watchers and voters to allow the latter to enter the precinct.

According to Doria, when poll watchers suspected someone was a nonresident, “five or seven of them would surround [the voter] and start accusing them of [being flying voters], telling them to get out.” Other residents were pressured to leave, he said, when they could not present identification cards showing their addresses.

“Instead of going to the proper forum, they expropriated the law for themselves, putting it into their own hands,” Doria said. “For them to prevent legitimate voters just because, according to them, they’re flying voters, is unfair.”

Jazz del Rosario, head poll watcher, had said that suspected flying voters were simply asked questions about their supposed residence, like its exact address or the color of its gate. Some voluntarily left the polling precinct after admitting to teachers that they were not residents of Pasay City, she added.

Big jump in numbers

There are more businesses at Barangay 97, which is located on Taft Avenue, than residences which was why Manguerra said she was stunned when the list of registered voters ballooned to nearly 4,000 in 2017, up from 1,600 in the 2013 elections.

“[But] because of the small gap [between the final tally], we are happy,” she added.

In an apparent dig at Ang and the city she said many of the flying voters came from, Manguerra said: “Once you are voted in by Caloocan residents, you are not a Pasay City barangay captain.”

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TAGS: barangay elections 2018, Pasay flying voters, Serafico Ang, SK elections 2018, Yok Tin So
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