TENSION IN TUBURAN
Lagon claims barricades being set up in front town hall; Not true, says Diamante
Is this the calm before the political storm in Tuburan town in northwest Cebu?
The supporters of Mayor Democrito Diamante of Tuburan were reportedly putting up barricades in front of the municipal hall in anticipation of the takeover of Daphne Lagon, who won as mayor in a court-supervised vote recount.
But Diamante denied that such a movement was being done by his camp, claiming that Lagon was just sowing rumors to create tension.
Lagon was expected to file a formal pleading in court today to seek the immediate implementation of its judgment that declared her the rightful winner in the hotly contested mayoral race last May 2016 so she could sit as mayor.
“We were told that some of Diamante’s supporters started to put up barricades. I was out of town for a personal engagement. We were told about the fences being used as barricades around the town hall,” she told Cebu Daily News over the phone on Tuesday.
When Cebu Daily News visited the municipal hall in Tuburan on Tuesday afternoon, no barricades were seen.
Diamante accused Lagon of fabricating lies in order to “stir trouble.”
“They are the ones starting chaos. Sure, they created this rumor,” he said in an interview.
Diamante, who is in his last term as mayor of Tuburan town, denied putting up barricades around the municipal hall.
“If there are barricades there, how come people can still enter the municipal hall?” he asked.
Diamante was proclaimed winner by mere 46 votes during the May 2016 elections. But Lagon, a businesswoman, filed an election protest which led to a recount of votes.
Last week, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Toledo City in western Cebu, which has jurisdiction over Tuburan town, declared that Lagon was the rightful winner in the 2016 mayoralty race and ordered Diamante to vacate the post.
In a decision dated October 10, Judge Hermes Montero of RTC Branch 29 said Lagon won by 93 votes over Diamante after a court-supervised recount of at least 11 precincts.
Diamante was then directed to relinquish his post in favor of Lagon.
But the embattled mayor had no plans of giving up his post and instead planned to file an appeal at the Commission on Elections in Manila.
SPO1 Dandreb Lambo of the Tuburan Police Station said they had not received complaints or reports from anyone regarding the presence of barricades around the municipal hall.
Lambo, however, said that the gate leading to the Tuburan municipal hall had been closed since Monday after President Duterte suspended work in government offices and classes in both private and public schools due to the nationwide transport strike.
“There was no work, so the driveway leading to the municipal hall was closed. But other than that, it’s generally peaceful in our town, and hopeful it will remain that way in the coming days,” he said.
Supt. Marlu Conag, chief of the Tuburan Police Station, said they had not monitored any rallies from the camps of Lagon and Diamante since the court ruling came out.
“Dumaan ako sa munisipiyo, generally peaceful naman. Wala pang nangyayari (I passed by the town hall, and it was generally peaceful. There are no untoward incidents for now),” he said.
Conag said he had already notified the Provincial Public Safety Company (PPSC) to be ready to help them just in case the brewing political tension would turn violent.
In a separate interview on Tuesday, Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said he believed that Diamante won the mayoral race in Tuburan fair and square.
“Gamay ra iyang labaw sa counting pero he was the winner (Diamante had a slim lead over Lagon but he won). I believe in my heart that he was the winner. Unsaon niprotesta man ang pikas, iya man sad ng katungod (The other camp protested. That is their right),” Davide said.
Like Davide, Diamante is a member of the Liberal Party (LP) while Lagon belongs to the One Cebu Party which has affiliated with the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban).
Davide said he just hopes that nothing violent will happen.
“I hope nothing untoward happens. I hope the supporters of both parties remain calm,” he said.
Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said Lagon can assume as the new mayor of Tuburan town if Diamante fails to get a restraining order from the Comelec central office in Manila.
Lagon, he said, has the option to request the judge to issue a writ of execution even while her opponent contests her victory.
Diamante, on the other hand, can block Lagon’s plan to assume as mayor of Tuburan by filing an appeal at the Comelec central office in Manila with the request for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
Castillano said a Comelec-issued TRO is valid for only 60 days, but it can be extended throughout the duration of the appeal upon the request of Diamante and with the approval of the poll body.
As to who will get a lawful order first, Castillano said it now lies on the abilities of the lawyers of both camps.
Although no one wants to give way and back down, both Lagon and Diamante promised not to resort to violence while the tug-of-war for the mayoralty seat in Tuburan continues. /with reports from Nestle L. Semilla and USJ-R Intern Patricia Luardo
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