1 hurt in Biliran stand-off, Chong supporters picket Capitol

by EVMail News on May 25, 2010

NAVAL, BILIRAN – One supporter was shot by a still unidentified assailant in a two-day rally at the Capitol grounds here, staged by incensed supporters of the defeated Chongs who claim they were cheated in the May 10, 2010 polls.

An estimated 1,000 supporters of defeated congressional candidate Rep. Glen Chong and his father Charlie, decided to do a “people’s power” on May 12 and picketed at the Capitol grounds, immobilizing the Comelec officials which were about to transport the PCOS machines to its hub in Tacloban City.
The rally, which grew to a crowd of about 4,000 by late afternoon, was held just as the triumphant Espinas were about to hold their victory party at the patriarch’s “Biliran Gardens”, the resort cum residence of former congressman Gerry Espina Sr.
The group has also reportedly detained an estimated 40 people who came from the island of Gapul-an in Samar, who were accused by the Chong supporters as “flying voters” of the Espinas. The group has since been released but it was not clear if they would press charges against their detainers.
The rallyists claim the Espinas cheated the elections and are demanding a manual recount of the votes.
Byron Alcoba, a reporter of Community Channel of Naval, said that Chong’s supporters started to build up a crowd at the Naval cathedral, and proceeded to picket the Capitol. At around 3:00 PM, the crowd became heated and rowdy.
Alcoba said that at the time of his report, the police was already beefing up its forces and calling in personnel from nearby towns. The Chongs, it was further learned, were not in the province and did not do anything to appease their supporters.
It was on the evening of May 12, at around 11:00 PM, that a young man surnamed Tumamak was shot by an unidentified gunman. He strayed from the group of supporters and was shot.
Sr. Supt. Wilson Caubat, in an interview this Saturday, May 15, said that the situation was under control already. He said peace has been restored to the capital town on Friday, May 14, after police regional director persuaded supporters of defeated congressman Glen Chong to allow them to return the PCOS machines to the regional Comelec.
As for the Chong supporter who was shot, he was declared out of danger already, as the police continue to investigate the shooting.
Caubat said that the rally was fuelled by rumors that Congressman Chong was offered PCOS machines worth P15-million but turned it down. The machines, the rumors add, were then bought by the Espinas accounting for their win in all the posts they sought.
Compounding matters was the delay of voting in some precincts. In one barrio at Cabucgayan, he said, voting went on until 11:00 AM of the next day. This made voters vulnerable to a lot of “influences”, he alluded.  In the overall, however, his assessment of the polls was relatively “clean” because the results would show it was a “close fight” between to the Espinas and the Chongs.
That is why, Caubat said, Chong’s supporters picketed the Capitol where the provincial election office is, to ascertain that no “excess” or fake PCOS machines are spirited away. He noted that many people were inconvenienced, including provincial election officer Atty. Richard Japzon and other employees, who stayed holed up in the Capitol while the picket was going on.
Police regional director Rey Lañada himself came to pacify the rally leaders, it was learned.
To buy peace, Lañada allowed Chong supporters to follow them in a convoy to the PCOS hub in Tacloban City, to ensure that there would be no “switching” or fake PCOS machines that will be transported.
Caubat said that “all’s well that ends well”, admitting it was a tense week for him and his policemen. At the time of this interview, he said that it was the first day that he felt rested.
In the report relayed by Alcoba, he said that the Espinas made a spectacular comeback after being routed in the polls three years ago.
Proclaimed as the new governor is Gerardo “Gerry Boy” Espina Jr. who was a first term congressman and was defeated by the incumbent Rep. Glen Chong in 2007.
He garnered 32,111 votes under the Nacionalista Party while Chong’s father Charlie (Lakas) got 31,106. Three other candidates divided the remaining 14,000 votes.
On the other hand, last term governor Dr. Rogelio Espina wrested the congressional seat from incumbent Glen Chong with 40,010 votes. Chong got 39,649.
Incumbent vice-governor Lucila Curso, however, lost to Manuel Montejo from Chong’s line-up.
Former congressman Gerardo Espina Sr., who became mayor of Naval town in 2004, is now the new mayor of Kawayan town. His son Rudy, who is also the incumbent mayor, is the incoming vice-mayor.
Biliran province, it was added, is one of the rare areas in Eastern Visayas where presidential bet Manny Villar won. He got 25,281 votes over Aquino’s 21,270. Teodoro followed with 11,866 and Estrada, 10,700.
Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, on the other hand, was the top choice of Biliranons with 33,907. Liberal Party’s Mar Roxas was a far second with only 18,174, followed by Legarda with 8,864 and Edu with 3,570. By Lalaine M. Jimenea


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