BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Evelio Leonardia here has filed a protest asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Central Office in Manila to conduct a manual recount of all 450 clustered precincts here due to alleged massive vote-buying in the May 9 elections.
Leonardia, who was in his second term, also asked the poll body to declare failure of elections in the city and conduct special polls here because, he said, fake voters were allowed to cast their votes that resulted in a mysterious and unbelievable outcome last May 9.
Leonardia, mayoral bet of Grupo Progreso (GP), received only 107,447 votes, losing by 64,446 votes to former Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo “Albee” Benitez of Asenso Bacolod who got 171,893 votes.
Dr. Chris Sorongon, spokesperson of Leonardia, confirmed Leonardia’s election protest during a press briefing at Planta Hotel here last Tuesday. Sorongon was joined by lawyers Marcus Vaflor and Jireh Alimon.
Sorongon disclosed that it was the first time for Leonardia to file an election protest in his 34-year political career that started in 1988 when he ran for councilor.
He said the decision of Leonardia to file a complaint was in response to the people’s clamor, and that the people of Bacolod, he added, want to know the truth.
In his protest filed last May 20, Leonardia alleged that massive and rampant vote-buying affected the results in all of the 61 barangays and 450 clustered precincts on the weekend leading to the elections and during the May 9 balloting itself, Vaflor said.
Vaflor said they have witnesses on these allegations, however, he refused to elaborate further on the other details of the protest.
Alimon said that their client deemed it appropriate to file the necessary complaint to know the truth with the prayer that the Comelec will conduct manual recount and consequently declare failure of elections to pave the way for the holding of special polls.
Meanwhile, Benitez, in a statement, said the baseless and frivolous complaint filed by the incumbent mayor is another desperate move of one who refuses to accept the truth.
Benitez noted that the conduct of the 2022 elections was generally peaceful, credible, and orderly, adding that no documented and concrete evidence has been shown to prove any irregularities at the voting precincts.
Benitez said that the people of Bacolod have spoken and it is time to move on and buckle down to work. He said such electoral protest is an exercise of futility and will surely be dismissed.