Paz and Arturo Radaza interviewed during the oath-taking ceremony at the Lapu-Lapu City Hoops Dome. (photos by Allan Defensor)

LAPU-LAPU CITY, Philippines- An alleged “election operator” rigged the May 13 elections here. This is according to former Congressman Arturo “Boy” Radaza, the mayoralty bet of Team Deretso who lost to Mayor-elect Junard “Ahong” Chan.

“Naistorya gyud namo ang tawo, gipakita gyud mi, apil na kung pila ang gibayad nila (we really talked to the person, we were really shown, including on how much was paid to them), Radaza told iNews.Ph inside the Hoopsdome in Barangay Gun-ob today, June 1, where his wife, outgoing Mayor and Congresswoman-elect Paz Radaza took her oath.

Radaza did not provide additional details though but in his speech, he insinuated that the Lapu-Lapu City election was a “surambaw (double cross)” and that their filing of election protest against Chan is aimed at knowing the real election outcome.

“Prangkang pagkasulti ang nahitabo sa milabayng eleksyon dako tung surambaw. Maayong pagkadala apan klarong trampas.” “Isip timonel kaakuhan nako ang pagpangita sa hustisya. Kaakuhan nako ang pag-ugkat sa kamatuoran. Ako kining buhaton, dili ko kamo pakyason,” Radaza said.

Canjulao barangay councilor Rufo Bering, a Team Deretso speakers bureau spoke to the audience that filled the venue. Bering showed some statistics in the LED screen which he said is an indication that cheating occurred through the Vote Counting Machines (VCM’s) which he said is the “handiwork” of the operators.

Apart from allegedly targetting the votes of Arturo, Bering said city councilor Harry Don Radaza, their vice mayoralty bet, has also been affected. “Ang resulta sa Mayor ug Bise Mayor mga kaigsoonan, matud pa gi-operasyonan. Wala mapildi si Boy Radaza, wala mapildi si Harry Don Radaza.”

Bering said once the election protest, will be sustained, a recount of ballots and revision of the results will happen, airing confidence that the Radaza’s will be ultimately declared as the winners. The 10 city council candidates of Team Deretso also took their oath and all have pledged that they will not leave their party once Chan will assume office on June 30.

Arturo himself led the recitation of “Panumpa sa Pakighiusa (Pledge of Unity)” of all Team Deretso members which also included 28 of the 30 barangay captains and their councilors, Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairmen and councilors and their supporters.

The councilors-elect are as follows: Marcial Ycong, Atty. Rico Amores, Joe Dungog, Dr. Junrey Gestopa, Engr. Efren Herrera, Atty. Flaviano Hiyas, Queenie Malingin- Amman, Atty. Rex Mangubat, Rudy Potot and Atty.Gregorio “Epoy” Paquibot. Meanwhile, Mayor Paz enumerated her performance for nine years starting in 2010.

She said business is at brisk in the city and the tourism industry had a boast when their branding “The Historic Resort City” has been implemented. The city that is known for its pristine beaches is now a host of several high-end resort-hotels.

Even if her term as Mayor officially ends this month, Paz announced that all the senior citizens and persons with disabilities (PWD’s) will receive their P3, 500 and P3,000 cash assistance respectively, in the next few days.

Paz is set to replace her daughter Aileen who opted not to seek reelection. Atty. Zandro Oriol, the lawyer of the Radaza’s said at least 46 witnesses have executed affidavits claiming election irregularities and that the Statements of Votes of 84 clustered precincts were missing.

Bering who is one of the strategists of the Radaza’s alleged that at least 1,000 votes per barangay were shed off from Arturo to tilt the favor to Chan. Chan is not immediately available for his reaction but he earlier asked the Radaza’s to accept the outcome of the elections.

He denied that cheating occured citing the fact that Paz won. He said that the voters wanted change in the leadership of the city. “It is his right to do so but they should have respected the will of the people. They really wanted change,” Chan told reporters in an interview.

The Radaza’s have lorded Lapu-Lapu City for more than two decades, Chan, the incumbent Pajo barangay captain was even their former ally who became independent in 2010 losing then to Paz in the mayoralty race. Aside from his running mate Celedonio “Celsi” Sitoy, two of Chans councilor candidates also won, Nelson Yap and Janvi dela Serna.

Chan won by a margin of 19, 868 votes but Oriol contended that Radaza (66, 108) could surpass Chan (85, 976) if the SOV’s of the 84 precincts will be known and accounted for./AAJ