21 May 2007

Scenes from a high-drama denouement

IT TOOK a gutsy, decisive decision by Naga City Comelec registrar Maico Julia to finally put a close to the tension-filled election canvass here.

Lito del Rosario, chief of the Public Safety Office, said Attorney Julia bravely stood his ground and decided to proclaim the winning Team Naga slate, amidst the opposing position taken by his two other colleagues at the City Board of Canvassers.

I asked Lito to narrate what transpired after seeing pictures shared to me by photographer Randy Villaflor. Take note in the photo above that Vice Mayor Gabby Bordado (in red shirt) is close to tears as his hands, together with that of Mayor Robredo and Councilor William del Rosario (left), were finally raised by Julia.

Earlier, with the tally finally finished affirming what has long been public knowledge, the opposing counsels for Team Naga and Kampi were asked to present their closing arguments, Lito said. Then, each member of the canvassers' board were then allowed to say their piece.

City prosecutor Romeo Tayo started out by disputing all arguments made by Team Naga counsel P. Gerardo Borja in favor of immediate proclamation. Julia followed suit, and explained why he is in favor of proclaiming the winners and putting finis to the whole proceedings.

DepEd acting superintendent Evangeline Palencia (speaking on the mike, with Tayo by her side) then showed her true colors, finally confirming allegations behind her surprise transfer to the Naga schools division: she sided with Tayo and favored delaying the proclamation until the issue on Robredo's citizenship is resolved by Comelec. That was met by loud booing and jeering from the pro-Robredo crowd that filled the Sanggunian session hall.

It is at this point that Julia, actually outnumbered 2-1, made his decisive, tide-turning move. Invoking Comelec rules that prevent canvassers from entertaining such issues in pre-proclamation cases, he manifested his intent to go ahead with the proclamation, to the delight of the crowd. The last picture captures a beaming Robredo and his relieved supporters celebrating the breakthrough.

According to Lito, truncheon-wielding riot policemen, as Manolo texted me, were actually positioned at the City Hall premises, effectively increasing the initial platoon three days back to three truckloads of Legazpi-based Regional Mobile Group (RMG) personnel. It appeared that the game plan calls for trouble to erupt, for the RMG to step in and halt the canvassing, and set the stage for its transfer to a more Kampi-friendly venue, probably the provincial capitol in neighboring Pili town.

In fact, there were attempts to precisely provoke a confrontation, right outside the Sanggunian hall itself, but the Team Naga partisans kept their composure and did not take the bite.

When Julia crossed his Rubicon, the die was cast and the rest was history. Tayo and Palencia abruptly left afterwards, and were no longer around when Julia raised the winners' hands. (This morning, Jojo Villafuerte was still taking issue with Julia's decision in radio interviews; Palencia on the other hand claims she did not really walk out.) Their departure also signalled the Kampi partisans and the RMG troopers it was time to go home and call it a day.

Yesterday's issue of Manila Bulletin carried this story that, among others, contains Comelec chair Benjamin Abalos's position on pre-proclamation protests. Julia, who had to resist tremendous pressure from relatives and overlords in the Kampi party during the entire five-day proceedings, has been right all along.


Anonymous said...

Another sidelight before the actual proclamation - - after canvassing and while tabulations were going on, Tayo invited (or would lured be the right term?) Julia and Palencia to his office (the City Prosecutor's Office) for an alleged closed-door conference. Media people who followed them weren't allowed inside. They were gone for 2 hours and people left at the canvassing hall were getting fidgety. Allegedly, while inside, Tayo called up his "boss", who in turn talked to Palencia and Julia trying to convince both to delay the proclamation further. One relented and the other stood his ground.

dave (",) said...

Provoke a confrontation? That sounds like what William Esposo said in his column, which you've quoted in an earlier entry.


A decision had to be made and the fella with the moral courage took it.

That's how it's gotta be.

Congratulations to Naguenos!

Willy B. Prilles, Jr. said...

Anon: That's what I also gathered from the mediamen who covered the event Friday evening.

Dave: I missed that angle. Thanks.:)

Hillblogger: It's a great relief the whole thing's finally over. And I, too, doff my hat to Maico. Now, radio reports have it that Dr. Palencia, the new Deped acting superintendent, has already signed the proclamation document.

While it formalizes matters, I think her defining moment came Fri evening. As Anon said, she relented while Maico stood his ground.