Friday, February 14, 2020

Move On! Beng tells political foes to accept defeat

ZAMBOANGA MAYOR Beng Climaco has told his political foes to move on after the Commission on Election dismissed the electoral protest of defeated politician Celso Lobregat.

Lobregat has filed a motion with the COMELEC to reconsider its decision junking his electoral protest against the prominent Climaco. 

In an eight-page decision penned on January 31, 2020, Presiding Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia and Commissioner Socorro B. Inting of the COMELEC’s Second Division found Lobregat’s “election protest to be insufficient in form and content.” 

The COMELEC decision said Lobregat’s protest failed to reflect a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts, in accordance with Section 9(b), in relation to Section 7(g), Rule 6 of Comelec Resolution No. 8804 (Comelec Rules of Procedure on Disputes in an Automated Election System). 

Climaco thanked the COMELEC for the decision, and also her legal team headed by Atty. Quirino Esguerra for her victory. “I am very happy about it. I am humbled and grateful to the people (for the opportunity to serve them as mayor). With this, we hope to end the animosities and energies that we have had in the last elections. Let us move on,” she said.

Lobregat, who ruled Zamboanga for two decades as mayor and congressman, filed the electoral protest with the COMELEC in May 23 claiming alleged irregularities and fraud, among others for his terrible defeat. And he wanted the poll body to declare him winner in the May 13 elections despite Climaco’s overwhelming victory against him. 

Climaco won with over 30,000 votes against Lobregat and the Board of Canvassers declared her the winner in the polls with an overwhelming 146,079 votes as against Lobregat’s 112,343 votes.

Lobregat, who was never defeated in his entire political career, said the results of the elections were “unbelievable” because his family - from the grandfather Pablo Lorenzo, who was once Mayor of Zamboanga and a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1934, to his mother, Maria Clara, who became mayor and congresswoman – served the city.

He is also insisting the ballot boxes of 379 precincts should be opened and counted manually. Lobregat said he will go to the Supreme Court if the COMELEC En Banc junks his motion for reconsideration.

His younger brother, Jomar, who ran twice in the polls since 2013 as congressman in District 2 and the same position in District 1, also lost terribly. In 1984, Lobregat’s mother also lost to Climaco’s popular grandfather, Cesar, in the mayoralty race.

Climaco strongly denied all of Lobregat’s accusations and told the elderly politician to accept defeat and respect the “true will of the people”. The 52-year old mayor, popularly known here as “Beng,” also cited historical statistical data to prove her victory was beyond any doubt.

She said her victory over Lobregat was a clear indication of the strong support of the people for her third and final term. Climaco, an educator and guidance counsellor for children and family affairs, said the results of the 2019 polls mirrored the 2004 local elections.

In both elections, Climaco said she received more than 140,000 votes as vice mayor, while Lobregat got a little over 113,000 as mayor for first term. And Climaco said when she ran for her first term as mayor in 2013, she garnered 174,725 votes; in 2016 for second term she had 175,599 votes; and in 2004, when she ran for vice mayor, she received 140,225 votes.

She said in comparison, Lobregat got only 113,447 votes in 2004 when he ran for mayor on his first term; and 110,867 votes in 2007 for his second term, and 118,227 votes in 2010 for his third term.

Even in congressional races, Climaco said she outperformed Lobregat by as much as 11,000 votes. “There is no historical evidence that suggests Lobregat is more popular than I, but there is overwhelming evidence that I am a more popular candidate than him,” she said.

During the campaign period, Lobregat claimed that 78 of Zamboanga’s 98 village chieftains were supporting his candidacy and he even came out with a signed manifesto and published in two local dailies. But Lobregat managed to win only in 20 villages. (Zamboanga Post)

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