Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dumaguete polls: The dirtiest ever?

A local politician has dropped a bombshell by charging that the last elections in the city will go down in history as the “costliest” and the “dirtiest” ever.
He charges there was “blatant vote-buying” and “dagdag-bawas” was at its highest.
Former city councilor Dr. Rafael “Payling” Lagahit made this bold statement in his column published in the Negros News last June 24, 2007.
Now, this can be seen by some as sour-graping, because Payling ran and lost for a city council seat in the last elections.
But knowing Payling Lagahit, he knows from whereof he speaks.
He is not a stranger to local politics.
Payling is a former three-term Dumaguete councilor. He was with the team of Mayor Perdices in the late 1980’s and 1990’s.
I used to cover the city council during those times, so I got to interview Payling many times before.
Before I comment on Dr. Payling’s published pronouncements, let me re-print his article verbatim:

The latest elections will go down in Dumaguete City’s history as one of the costliest and dirtiest elections ever held in this so-called city of gentle people. Blatant vote-buying and “dagdag bawas” (vote padding and vote shaving) was at its highest. One cannot say that this was done by the opposition because the opposition never had any money in the first place. The administration had the machinery and money at their beck and call. On the aspect of vote buying, one can just ask the ordinary voter. And on the dagdag bawas one can surmise because for three days vote-counting was not held and on top of this, a brown-out happened conveniently not in the city but only in City Hall where the vote-counting took place. There was then ample time for ballot manipulation aided by the brown-out.

Because of the so-called cheating written by a columnist of a local paper, the mayor (like the husband of the President) sued him for a hefty sum. Did the mayor cheat during the latest elections? That is a question that remains unanswered. Only time will tell. I, for one, do not think he did. But I cannot say the same to some of his minions. The mayor once wrote that he welcomes constructive criticisms. . The mayor should take into consideration that during the previous elections, he had a majority of more than fifteen thousand votes. In this elections his majority had trickled down to a little over five thousand votes even if his rival had practically no money to think of. Basically, the mayor is a good man, but people around him has brought his credibility and his popularity to the bottom. More than half of the city hall employees voted against him, not because of him as the city’s manager, but because a father and son tandem has brought his popularity to the poorest level. The city hall employees did not vote for the mayor because they wanted the tandem out. These two have been flexing their political muscle at city hall to the point that one of them is dubbed the “little mayor”.

The mayor has three years more before he bows out. If he wants to leave a legacy of good governance to the city, these are the two people he should weed out and replace them with honest and credible people

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