(Photo courtesy of Noel Beronio)

Sue Cudilla, the Araceli town mayor who won through a toss coin in the mayoral race in 2019, was removed from office after losing in the election protest filed against her contending party Noel Beronio.

Judge Anna Lea Tiongson-Mendoza, presiding judge of Branch 164 of the Regional Trial Court (RTC), on Tuesday, promulgated the decision in favor of Beronio.

Beronio, former town mayor who sought for re-election, expressed triumph upon hearing the decision of the court, pointing out that he was the “legitimate and true winner”.

“For almost eight (8) months, we waited for the process. And finally, it’s here—ako ang legitimate at true winner,” Beronio said.

Short of four votes

Beronio filed an election protest on the ground of “anomaly” on the decrypted ballots from Barangays Taluto and Dalayawan.

A manual recounting of ballots showed 3,502 votes were garnered by Beronio, while Cudilla only had 3,498 votes.

Some half-shaded ballots, which were not counted by the vote-counting machines (VCM), were ruled in favor of Beronio as the voters showed “intent to elect” the returning mayor.

“Sa ngayon, ang importante makabalik tayo. Maraming salamat sa sa mga supporters ko na naging mahinahon sa halos walong buwan naming paghihintay,” Beronio added.

Will of man

Beronio and then-challenger Cudilla received the same number of 3,495 votes as the official tally concluded during the May 2019 local elections.

The board of canvassers ordered to break the deadlock through a toss coin which was subsequently won by Cudilla in three out of three sets she referred to as “will of God”.

Cudilla declined to issue any statement but confirmed that an appeal will be made by her lawyers.

“Hindi pa muna ako magbibigay ng statements, pero pinag-aaralan na ng aking lawyers ang aming next action. Definitely magfa-file kami ng appeal,” Cudilla said. // Photo courtesy of Noel Beronio

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.