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Due to Rosal dethronement: 4 Albay officials to occupy higher posts sans efforts

By Manuel T. Ugalde


LEGAZPI City --- Discounting any efforts for their future ambition, four top elected officials in Albay rose to prominence they had never expected, charge it to the controversial political fiasco in the province that stripped the elected governor of his post.


Vice Governor Greco Lagman was installed as governor of Albay he described “by operation of law,” same with the top provincial board Glenda Bongao, assuming as vice governor she would enjoy for six years without efforts for the 2nd top post of the province. Two other elected officials in Legazpi City, may also enjoy same victorious fate – that is if the Comelec en banc concur with the Comelec 2nd Division decision disqualifying Mayor Geraldine Rosal as duly elected Legazpi City. Mayor Rosal has a pending appeal before the Comelec en banc. A separate case for recount had been filed by his rival, Ako Bicol Party list congressman Alfredo Garbin.


On December 1, this year, Vice Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman, running mate of defeated re-electionist Al Francis Bichara, was installed as Albay governor, after Governor Noel Rosal was stripped off of his post as the governor elect by the Commission on Election en banc on November 19, in violation of the Omnibus Election Code. By operation of law, the vacated vice governor post was given to the top elected provincial board member Glenda Ong Bongao.


The Comelec en banc decision against Rosal was the virtual wordings copied in toto of the Comelec 1st Division disqualification order.


Rosal followers could not simply embrace the Comelec decision, citing the magnitude of 469,481 margin of votes Rosal garnered against the formidable re-electionist Gov. Al Francis Bichara, which political observers described as historical or first-ever in the history of Albay provincial election against a sitting governor.


Expected to benefit the result of the fiasco is Legazpi City Vice Mayor Bobby Cristobal who may succeed the elected city mayor, Geraldine Rosal, and city top councilor Law Beltran who may assume the post as the new vice mayor.


Political observers opined that the Comelec en banc decision handed down against Gov. Rosal could be the same language it would serve for his wife, Legazpi City mayor Geraldine Rosal, which the Comelec 2nd Division declared disqualified as the duly elected Legazpi City mayor over the same offense levied against the governor -- in violation of the Omnibus Election Code.


The disqualification order for Gov. Rosal from the Comelec 1st Division came out on September 19. Two weeks later, the Comelec 2nd Division released its disqualification order for Mayor Geraldine Rosal. On November 19, the Comelec en banc promulgated its decision final and executory, disqualifying Rosal as governor-elect, followed by a writ of execution.


Failing to get the temporary restraining order from the Supreme Court during the five-day allowed period to stall the writ of execution from the Comelec, on December 1, the Department of Interior and Local Government succeeded in serving the eviction notice for Rosal to vacate his post at same time installed Vice Gov. Lagman as the governor.


Political observers described the May 9 election for Albay as peaceful, however, marred with heavy vote buying. They estimated that for the contested position for the governor and Legazpi City mayor alone, the money flowed could have reached at P1.2 billion.


In Legazpi, the fight for the mayor alone had allocation of P5,000 and P3,000, respectively per voter. They did not identify whose group had given the P5000 and P3,000 per voter, saying it’s a public knowledge. As to who among the rivals have the capacity to give the highest dole-out.


A woman from Legazpi City claimed they were 8 voters in their family and lucky to receive a total of P64,000 from the two opposing political groups – of P5000 and P3,000 or P8000 total each voter.

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