June 14, 2024

The ranking of Baguio City Councilor Lilia Fariñas as 12th winning candidate is being challenged by Len Ortega, the candidate who landed in the 13th spot in the May 9 local and national elections.

On May 20, Ortega filed via registered mail an electoral protest alleging massive disenfranchisement, presence of flying voters from Pangasinan, vote buying through insertion of cash in campaign materials like shirts and attendance in payouts of the Tulong Hanapbuhay sa Disadvantaged or Displaced Workers (Tupad), indirect vote buying by promising to support various causes in exchange for votes, and manipulation of vote counting machines in some voting precincts in Irisan.

Ortega asked the Comelec to order a recount of ballots at 46 clustered precincts in Asin, Bakakeng Central, Camp 8, City Camp Central, City Camp Proper, DPS, Engineer’s Hill, Irisan, Marcoville, and Pacdal.

Ortega said she could have garnered more votes than Fariñas if not for the disenfranchisement of 8,156 voters who were not able to vote either due to malfunctioning vote counting machine and absence of the names of registered voters in the voter’s registration record despite being able to vote in the past elections.

Fariñas, who is on her third term, said she won fair and square.

She said she is incapable of cheating, as alleged. She said the votes she garnered were the product of hard work and a proven track record of public service beginning from when she was a barangay official.

Her presence in the release of payout for Tupad beneficiaries is part of her function as a government official, but she never used the event to enhance her image in her bid to be reelected, Fariñas added.

The widow of long-time city vice mayor Daniel Fariñas said she respects Ortega’s right to protest the results of the elections but maintained that the electoral process was regular.

Fariñas garnered 58,145 votes as against Ortega’s 54,223 votes or a lead of 3,922 votes.

Ortega is the widow of long-time city councilor Roberto “Bungo” Ortega. – Rimaliza A. Opiña