PUERTO PRINCESA, Palawan (2nd UPDATE) - Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron was sustained by voters as he won the recall elections held on Friday.
It was around 6 a.m. on Saturday when the city board of canvassers proclaimed Bayron as the duly elected mayor, with 44,299 votes.
The CBOC dismissed the last ditch petition of former Mayor Edward Hagedorn to stop the canvassing, saying that the grounds cited by the Hagedorn camp are misplaced and do not apply in this case.
Hagedorn had argued that some 11 election returns from clustered precincts should be excluded due to formal defects, but the CBOC said formal defects are not grounds for suspension or exclusion as stated by the Supreme Court in jurisprudence.
Hagedorn finished the vote with 39,002 votes.
Bayron thanked his supporters and everyone who went out to vote during Friday's recall election.
He said he was relieved that the recall election is done. He reached out to the Hagedorn camp and offered unity.
The mayor earlier criticized the elections as a disturbance to his running of the city. "Para sa akin, nakaistorbo ang eleksyong ito, pero kailangan harapin. Istorbo, dahil dapat nanunungkulan, pero natuloy ang recall election kaya naistorbo."
Even the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was relieved that the recall election was over.
Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim remarked the election was generally peaceful, all the way to the canvassing. He said they had expected that there would be disruptions but that did not happen.
Lim also commended the city board of canvassers for doing well. The canvassing and proclamation was expected to be finished at the latest at noon time. All votes were counted.
In a separate statement, commissioner Arthur Lim said, "Even I can confirm canvassing was done in accordance with procedure with full transparency. Objections to some ERs were based on alleged formal defects like absence of paper seal which do not pertain to pre-proclamation grounds that would warrant suspension of proclamation of winner."
"Recall elections were conducted in accordance with law and prescribed procedures from voting to counting to canvassing. "
"The need for a more sustained collaborative effort between Comelec and all stakeholders including in particular media to inculcate greater voter participation in elections as the foundation of democracy. The voter turnout in this recall was 60 percent more or less. We should target voter participation at, in my view, an ideal 80 percent on the average of voter turnout in all elections. Another lesson learned is enhance the presence of media TV in particular in remote or far flung areas as deterrent to electoral fraud. Media coverage of this recall helped ensure clean and credible result," he added.
Even the watchdogs are happy. Legal Network for Truthful Elections or Lente's Ona Caritos also said in a statement, "The canvassing went very well. It took ten hours. Delay was due to a lot of petitions for exclusion by the lawyers of the two main candidates in the recall. Petitions were primarily based on missing inner paper seal, missing statistical data, missing thumbmarks and allegations of fraud, tampering of the ERs."
"These missing requirements in the ER preparation show lack of training on the part of the BEIs, which is quite understandable because of the limited time to prepare for this exercise," Caritos said.