Corro files protest, disqualification vs Loot
Daanbantayan Mayor Augusto Corro has filed an electoral protest against Mayor-elect Vicente Loot, who defeated him by just seven votes.
He, likewise, filed before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) a petition to disqualify Loot from holding the office of Municipal Mayor of Daanbantayan for alleged election offenses and asked that the latter be charged criminally.
The protest was filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) while the petition for disqualification was filed before the Comelec last Thursday, May 19.
Loot, who beat Corro in this year’s polls by a mere seven votes, sent the outgoing mayor a letter offering reconciliation and peace last May16. Corro, in a phone interview yesterday said he was aware of the letter but did not bother reading its contents.
“It’s not that it’s not important, but I will become a hypocrite if I am going to accept his (offer of) reconciliation,” said Corro.
The protest was filed at RTC Branch 61 in Bogo City around 2 to 3 p.m. last Thursday.
Loot was proclaimed winner of the town’s hotly-contested mayoralty race last week after he garnered 20,412 votes, which is only seven votes more than Corro’s 20,405.
Corro ran under the Liberal Party (LP) while Loot ran under the National Unity Party (NUP) and locally with Kusog sa Norte (KSN).
The defeated mayor alleged that Loot’s camp was involved in “massive harassment, threat, intimidation, vote-buying, and intentional disenfranchisement of voters” in barangays Agujo, Bagay, Bakhawan, Bateria, Carnaza, Malbago, Maya, Paypay, Talisay, Tapilon, Tinubdan, and Tominjao covering 32 clustered precincts.
“The total votes cast in the May 9, 2016 election were 42,972 whereas the total votes cast for the position of Mayor were only 40,817. There is a difference of 2,155 votes which are unaccounted,” Corro said.
Because Loot is a recently retired member of the Philippine National Police (PNP) with the rank of General at the time of his retirement, Corro said he still “wields power and influence among the PNP” assigned in the town.
He alleged that some officials in these barangays as well as teachers who served as members of Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) whom Loot still has influence over, were among those who tried to manipulate the results of the elections.
The mayor said Loot allegedly “implemented a very systematic act of sowing terror, threat and terrorism, harassment and intimidation” by posting “guardians” in each barangay “instilling fear” in people as they pass by houses.
He also complained about the alleged distribution of election paraphernalia during election day, which is considered an election offense.
Blue umbrellas bearing the name of “Gen. Vic Loot, Mayor,” blue pins bearing the name LV believed to stand for “Loot Vicente” and blue bracelets with the name MVL allegedly for “Mayor Vicente Loot” as well as plastic “sachets” of drinking water bearing the words “LOOT CARES” were among the campaign paraphernalia cited by Corro in his complaint.
The mayor filed a separate Petition for Disqualification against Loot before the Comelec over alleged electioneering. It was sent to the Comelec Central Office in Intramuros, Manila via courier last May 19.
In his electoral protest, Corro asked for a recount of ballots cast in 32 clustered precincts in 12 out of 20 barangays of the town where anomalies in the conduct of the elections last May 9 allegedly happened.
In his petition, Corro asked the Comelec to disqualify Loot from holding office as mayor of Daanbantayan and that he be criminally prosecuted for the alleged election offenses.
Loot, meanwhile, said he had already expected the Corro would file an election protest.
“It’s his right. I am respecting that,” he said over the phone, adding that Corro also filed a protest when Loot’s stepson, Provincial Board Member Sun
Shimura, won as town mayor in 2007.
Shimura served as town mayor from 2007 to 2010. His mother, Ma. Luisa “Malou” Loot, took over from 2010 to 2013. She was beaten by Corro in the 2013 midterm elections.
Loot said he received the copy of Corro’s protest last Friday.
Despite Corro’s protest, Loot said he is still determined to seek reconciliation with Corro, adding that their act of peace is not for themselves but for the residents of Daanbantayan.
He said reconciliation would facilitate a proper transition of administrations, hoping to learn from Corro the projects he would want him to continue in the next three years.
“Accepting a hand of reconciliation during protest is not being hypocrite, but just being responsible. It will effectively spare the ants from getting trampled in the legal battle of the elephants,” said Loot.
Loot said that he and Corro can face off legally, but he asked that their supporters be kept out of the battle.
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