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Liberty bell rings louder for Albay governor amid Comelec order to vacate post

Philstar.com
Liberty bell rings louder for Albay governor amid Comelec order to vacate post
Supporters of embattled Albay Gov. are gathered at the provincial capitol to ring the Liberty bell.

MANILA, Philippines – While there’s already a Commission on Election (Comelec) en banc order for Gov. Noel Rosal to immediately vacate his post, residents of Albay province have responded with intensified support for the embattled official by ringing the Liberty bell, which started last month and continues up to now.

Thousands of people are trooping every day to the provincial capitol near the Peñaranda Park, also known as the Albay’s Freedom Park, to express their all-out support to Gov. Rosal and his wife, Legazpi City Mayor Geraldine Rosal.

They are ringing the Liberty bell day and night to reiterate their support for the Rosals.

"A massive number of supporters are ringing the Liberty bell all day, all night. Gusto namin patunugin ang kampana nang sobrang lakas para marinig hanggang Maynila at makarating sa mga taong magdedesisyon ukol sa issue. We are unified in support of the true governor, who fights for his people," said one Rosal supporter.

Rosal, for his part, said the demonstrations give him mixed emotions.

“People are coming each day here in the Capitol and I would like to thank them,” Rosal said. “It’s mixed feelings on my part; happy and sad because you will feel how the people support you.”

The waiting game now begins for Rosal and the Albay folk on whether or not a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) — which they sought last November 21 — will be granted by the Supreme Court (SC) that would allow him to stay in office while the High Court is resolving the issue.

“People from all walks of life are fighting for me here. I didn’t expect these people will come out to support me. The saddest part is these people should be in their respective houses or working for their families. But they really want to show the authority and the Supreme Court that the people have already spoken,” added Rosal.

The Rosals are hopeful that the SC will reverse the disqualification Comelec en banc ruling against the Albay governor when he was a candidate during the May 22 polls.

The Comelec ruled that Rosal committed an election violation when he allegedly disbursed public funds within 45 days before the polls.

But Rosal told constituents, especially the 460,000 voters who chose him, to keep the faith.

“I still believe in justice, and the Supreme Court has its moral values and feelings. They are also human beings who know what’s right and wrong,” Rosal said. “I hope they will consider a lot of factors. What we need here are the moral issues.”

He questioned whether it will be beneficial for the more than 460,000 voters in the Albay region to lose their votes when his camp led by more than 240,000 votes against his opponent, who only got 230,000 votes. 

“There’s a saying that the supreme rule is still the voice of the people. It is the voice of God,” Rosal said.

Rosal encouraged constituents to stay calm and pray despite the Comelec’s order to the Department of Interior Local Government (DILG) for him to immediately vacate his office unless he secures a TRO from the SC.

Additionally, Rosal criticized the Comelec ruling, saying the one complaint filed by a losing councilor Joseph Armogila was even questionable.

“This program is not new in Legazpi. We’ve been doing this for a long time and we have an evidence that this program is a project also of the city council and the development council,” Rosal stressed. “And they cannot stop that program of the city council or blame the mayor for doing his job.”

He also denied allegations of vote buying.

“I didn’t like the Comelec’s interpretation that it’s a violation of vote buying. How can you say that it was vote buying when you only given less than 10,000 beneficiaries while the voting population of Albay is more than 800,000?” Rosal said.

“We also scored an 18-0 win in all municipalities during the election. Our opponent didn’t win a single municipality. So for the people of Albay, let’s all be calm and just pray.”

ALBAY

NOEL ROSAL

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