But in a village near the town hall, outgoing Mayor Nestor Taasan held a ceremonial turnover of keys to Candolada’s closest rival, Genalyn Mangudadatu, at 12:01 p.m.
Taasan said he believed Mangudadatu won the contest ‘fair and square’.
Candolada considered Taasan’s move an act of treachery. She claimed that last week the outgoing mayor told her he would relinquish his position to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and not to her or her rival.
“But now, he acted exactly different from what he said. What can you call that?” she asked.
Candolada said, however, she is not worried. She added she would not give up the fight with thousands of supporters backing her.
“I’m getting stronger with their presence. And I’m not giving up, no way,” she said.
“The keys were just symbols. He (outgoing mayor Taasan) can give those keys to anybody. What is more important is that what I’m holding right now are legal documents that I used as proof to show that I’m the mayor of this town,” she said in a radio interview.
But for Genalyn’s husband and outgoing Buluan (Maguindanao) Mayor Toto Mangudadatu, who had just turned over his position to his brother, the turnover of keys is as important as holding a legal document.
“It may just be symbolic, but its essence is very important. An outgoing official will only turn over the keys to somebody whom he/she believes is the rightful owner of such position,” stressed Mangudadatu.
When asked as to where his wife would hold office on Monday, he said, “She can do that anywhere in Tulunan.”
He did not mind the town hall being occupied by his wife’s rival. “Anywhere my wife can give orders to anybody because she is the rightful mayor of Tulunan,” he said.
Candolada, on the other hand, said she was not leaving the place. “Not now, not today. I will stay here as long as I’m still the mayor of this town,” she said.
She insisted she was proclaimed on May 17, the same day Mangudadatu claimed her proclamation was signed by the Municipal Board of Canvassers.
Mangudadatu’s proclamation sheet, however, bore only the signatures of two members of the MBOC, Jose Padilla and Danilo Condes.
Danilo Parrenas, town election officer, did not sign the document.
Mangudadatu accused Catholic diocesan priest Ronilo Villamor of holding Parrenas hostage for a couple of days to prevent him from signing the document.
“This report was validated by an affidavit signed by two MBOC members, Jose Padilla and Danilo Condes, on May 18,” Mangudadatu said.
Villamor, in a radio interview, vehemently denied the accusation saying Parrenas sought refuge in his place because of threats to his life.
He said Parrenas told him that he refused to sign Mangudadatu’s proclamation sheet because he believed it was a wrong thing to do.
“Parrenas knew who the real winner is. So he decided to seek refuge. I did not abduct him nor kidnap him,” the priest said.
Villamor, is an official of the Concerned Citizens for Truth, Justice, and Freedom.