Cebu Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - by Futch An­thony Inso

The Re­gional Trial Court in Toledo City has ruled that Daphne Lagon is the right­ful win­ner in the 2016 may­oralty race in Tuburan town and or­dered the sit­ting mayor, Dem­ocrito Dia­mante, to va­cate the post.

Lagon yes­ter­day told CEBU DAILY NEWS that she is ready to as­sume the post, but Dia­mante said he would not give up the seat and would con­test the rul­ing.

This devel­oped as Judge Her­mes Mon­tero of the RTC Branch 29 in Toledo City de­clared Lagon, a busi­ness­woman, as the “duly elected mayor” of the town in the May 2016 elec­tions fol­low­ing a court-su­per­vised re­count.

A man­ual re­count of votes from at least 11 precincts in Tuburan showed Lagon won by 93 votes over Dia­mante, the court rul­ing said.

“Ac­cord­ingly, the procla­ma­tion on May 10, 2016 by the Mu­nic­i­pal Board of Can­vassers of Protes­tee Dem­ocrito Dia­mante as the duly elected mu­nic­i­pal mayor in the afore­said mu­nic­i­pal­ity is hereby re­called and set aside,” said Mon­tero, whose court in Toledo City has ju­ris­dic­tion over cases in Tuburan, a north­west­ern Cebu town 83 kilo­me­ters from Cebu City.

The rul­ing was is­sued last Oc­to­ber 10 but was re­leased to the par­ties and the me­dia just yes­ter­day, a Fri­day.

Dia­mante, a mem­ber of the Lib­eral Party (LP), was di­rected to re­lin­quish his post in fa­vor of Lagon, of One Cebu Party.

Dia­mante ear­lier won over Lagon by just 46 votes and was de­clared as mayor of Tuburan by the Com­mis­sion on Elec­tions (Com­elec).

But an elec­tion protest filed by Lagon prompted the court to or­der a vote re­count.

‘I am ready’

Lagon, in an in­ter­view, ex­pressed ela­tion over what she con­sid­ered as a just de­ci­sion by the trial court.

“We’ve been wait­ing for this for a long time al­ready. I am happy that the truth came out,” she told CEBU DAILY NEWS over the phone on Fri­day.

Lagon said she could not hold back her tears as she saw her sup­port­ers cel­e­brate her vic­tory.

De­spite the court rul­ing, Lagon, who runs a com­pany that in­stalls and main­tains telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion lines, said as­sum­ing as mayor of Tuburan is eas­ier said than done.

She said she is ex­pect­ing Dia­mante to con­test the de­ci­sion of the trial court and do every­thing to re­main as mayor of the sec­ond-class town that has a vot­ing pop­u­la­tion of about 42,000.

“We’re wait­ing for their ac­tions. We are ready for what­ever le­gal move they will take. I just hope that the Com­elec will rec­og­nize me as the duly elected mayor of the mu­nic­i­pal­ity,” Lagon said.

Al­though a rul­ing on her elec­tion protest was al­ready re­leased, Lagon said they will ask the trial court to is­sue a for­mal or­der ac­knowl­edg­ing her as the duly elected mayor of Tuburan on Mon­day, Oc­to­ber 16.

No way

Sought for com­ment, Dia­mante said they will file a mo­tion for re­con­sid­er­a­tion to con­test the court rul­ing, and asked the Com­elec not to de­clare Lagon as mayor.

“I will make sure that she (Lagon) won’t be able to sit as mayor and re­place me. Maybe, she can but only af­ter the 2019 elec­tions,” said Dia­mante, who is in his last term as mayor of Tuburan.

“We will take all le­gal rem­edy even if she will go all the way to the Supreme Court,” he added.

Aside from serv­ing as mayor of Tuburan, Dia­mante also sits as pres­i­dent of the League of Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties of the Philip­pines–Cebu Chap­ter.

Lawyer Delon Urot, le­gal coun­sel of Lagon, ap­pealed to Dia­mante to fol­low the rule of law and step down as mayor for the good of the peo­ple in Tuburan town.

He said they will ask the De­part­ment of In­te­rior and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment (DILG) to im­ple­ment the de­ci­sion of the court once the judge ap­proves their mo­tion to is­sue a for­mal or­der ac­knowl­edg­ing her as the duly elected mayor of Tuburan.

“If the court grants our mo­tion, then the DILG should im­ple­ment it as part of their re­spon­si­bil­ity. I hope the Philip­pine Na­tional Po­lice will also do its part to en­sure a peace­ful tran­si­tion of the town’s lead­er­ship,” Urot said.

DILG-Cen­tral Visayas Direc­tor Rene Bur­deos yes­ter­day said they have yet to re­ceive a copy of the rul­ing of the court.

“We don’t have that yet. Let us just wait for what­ever or­der the court of the Com­elec will ask the DILG to do,” he told CEBU DAILY NEWS over the phone.

The re­count

Hav­ing lost by a mar­gin of just 46 votes had prompted Lagon to file an elec­tion protest, also cit­ing some ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties such as vote rig­ging and fraud in the count­ing of votes in the dif­fer­ent precincts.

Urot said they orig­i­nally re­quested the court to re­count all 79 precincts in Tuburan.

How­ever, they de­cided to stick with just at least 11 precincts since the camp of Dia­mante pur­port­edly did not file a counter-protest.

The bal­lots that were in­cluded in the vote re­count came from the polling precincts in Barangays Kam­poot, Mar­mol, Daan Lung­sod, Malobolo, Sumon, Mangga and Pu­tat.

When Lagon started to lead by 93 votes and felt that they were win­ning the vote re­count, Urot said they de­cided to with­draw their protest in other precincts.

“We with­drew the oth­ers be­cause Dia­mante’s camp has not filed a counter-protest, and they were just de­lay­ing the pro­ceed­ings. So we had sole de­ci­sion over the re­count,” the lawyer said.

“On the 11 precincts where the votes were re­counted, we were al­ready win­ning, so we de­cided to no longer con­test the other bal­lots,” he added.


Tuburan’s de­feated may­oralty can­di­date Daphne Lagon, in this photo taken dur­ing the May 2016 elec­tions, showed her fin­ger with in­deli­ble ink af­ter she voted at the Tuburan Cen­tral School. The Re­gional Trial Court in Toledo City that presided over the elec­tion protest filed by Lagon ruled she won the elec­tions in 2016. But sit­ting Mayor Dem­ocrito Dia­mante (in­set) will not step down and will ques­tion the rul­ing.

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