>CEBU CITY — Low turnout plagued the bi-annual elections of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu and Cebu City chapters.
Only 260 lawyers joined the exercise for the provincial chapter at the IBP building, while 447 lawyers voted in the city polls at the Palace of Justice.
Atty. Ferdinand Pepito edged out Atty. Rex Fernandez in the province, while Atty. Earl Bonachita defeated Atty. Ian Anthony Sapayan in Cebu City.
“It’s probably because we have a long holiday,” said outgoing IBP Cebu City chapter president Michael Yu, when asked about the turnout.
Voting opened at 8 a.m. and closed at noon.
The mood overall was festive, as food and drinks that were equally shouldered by competing candidates were laid out outside the IBP building and at the justice palace courtyard.
Candidates from Sapayan’s slate, however, lamented that despite Regional Trial Court (RTC) Executive Judge Meinrado Paredes’s instruction, there were some who resorted to black propaganda.
Paredes, in a meeting with contending camps and Yu two weeks ago, warned against using methods of traditional politicians or “trapos.”
But yesterday, a group of yet to be identified individuals handed out leaflets listing the “qualifications” of the presidential contenders and included data “that were no longer relevant to the polls.”
“If you are a lawyer, you are qualified to run for positions of the IBP. It doesn’t matter if you took the bar twice,” said candidate Emmanuel Jude Bernido. He eventually won a seat in the city chapter’s board of directors.
“At least we now know what kind of people they are,” he said.
Question of propriety
“We also have information that is negative to the other side, but we did not make use of it precisely to keep the atmosphere of amity,” said candidate Fillmore Gomos. He, too, won a seat in the city chapter’s board of directors.
Yu, after seeing the circulated paper, said parties always have the option of lodging a formal complaint. But, he said, there was nothing illegal about it “because people have the right to know.”
Atty. Carlos Cavada, however, clarified that it was not a question of legality, but one of propriety.
Cavada is a past president of the Young Lawyers Association of Cebu, whose members include Bonachita and Sapayan.