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EDITORIAL: The Victors

NOW that the ballots have been counted and battles have been won, we believe it is for the interest of the public to know how they have conducted their sacred right of suffrage and to whom they have entrusted their mandate with the strong belief that their community will henceforth be a better place to live in.

Let us take the case in particular the votes that were counted in Naga for both the mayoral and congressional contests.

In the early part of the counting of votes for the mayorship of Naga, it looked as if it was a nip and tuck race between protagonists Nelson Legacion and challenger Tato Mendoza with only, say, less than 80 or 400 votes in some barangays between them. It was quite a different story for the congressional battle where re-electionist Gabby Bordado forged ahead with comfortable margin over his opponents -- former congressmen Luis Villafuerte and Cho Roco. Early on, Congressman Gabby clinched control of the canvassing that virtually sealed his imminent victory although there were close skirmishes in some barangays where Villafuerte, or rather his ward leaders, held sway. To his disappointment, comebacking Congressman Cho Roco, also a former Naga City Mayor, was smashed to the pulp, consistently getting low percentage of the votes counted as if he wasn’t in the race at all. None in the city’s 27 barangays was Cho able to post a win. For his ward leaders, the writings on the wall are clear that he should, for the love of him, finally retire after several failed attempts as either comebacking city mayor or congressman.

Interestingly, Villafuerte, despite his advanced age, was able to pull victories in at least three barangays in the city, namely Igualdad (828 votes vs Bordado’s 570), Pacol (2,279 votes vs Bordado’s 1,551), and Sabang (1,383 vs Bordado’s 1,270). In Brgy. Lerma, it was quite a dizzy seesaw fight: Bordado mustering 676 votes over Villafuerte’s 633 votes. In the final tally district-wide, Bordado rode roughshod, dislodging once and for all his closest rival, Luis Villafuerte, by garnering102,929 total votes against the latter’s 81,304 votes.

In the mayoral race, aspirant Legacion, the incumbent vice mayor, won in all but two barangays, and tied the score in one vote-rich barangay that was otherwise touted to be a Mendoza territory.

Mendoza, who ran a well-oiled campaign machine and got accused even of massive vote-buying by his rival camp, could only post wins by slim margins in Barangays Sta. Cruz and Sabang (1,513 votes vs Legacion’s 1,456 and 1,543 vs 1,479, respectively). And, holy cow, they got even scores, 4,066 each, in Concepcion Pequena, the city’s biggest barangay with the most number of registered voters, and where Mendoza resides.

In the final count, Legacion romped away with 41,591 votes against Mendoza’s 33,707 votes. Observers say it was a close call compared to past elections where the Team Naga standard bearer (i.e. Jesse Robredo and John Bongat) used to run away with as much as 20,000 to 15,000 vote margin.

As reported earlier in this paper, last May 13 voters’ turnout in the city was placed by Comelec at only 79,750 out of the city’s 105,366 registered voters. This means that only 75.68% of the voting population came to the polls to vote. Records also show that this low turnout is traditionally true during local or mid-term elections. Voters’ turnout goes higher during presidential elections.

With those convincing victories, Rep. Gabby Bordado and Mayor-elect Nelson Legacion and his winning slate have enough reason to formally take their oaths before Vice President Leni Robredo during simple ceremonies slated to be held this Saturday morning at the Jesse M. Robredo Museum.

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