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Lanao Norte 1st district representative finally proclaimed

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By Richel Umel Inquirer ILIGAN CITY, Philippines--The special Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBoC) of Lanao del Norte has proclaimed former Iligan City Councilor Vicente "Varf" Belmonte as the winning congressional candidate for the province's first district, including this city. Belmonte's proclamation on Wednesday came after the second division of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Manila finished the canvassing of the certificates of canvass (CoCs) from the district, which also includes the towns of Linamon, Kauswagan, Bacolod, Kolambugan, Maigo, Tubod and Baroy. Belmonte, of the United Opposition, garnered a total vote of 60,054 over his closest rivals, Angelique Badelles of Kampi (Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino or Partner of the Free Filipino), who took 46,630 votes, and former Lanao del Norte governor Imelda Dimaporo of Lakas, who got 44,343 votes. Reached by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of INQURER.net, on Thursday, Belmonte said he already took his oath of office before Iligan City Councilor Voltaire Rovira, who is also one of his lawyers. Badelles had long conceded defeat based on figures from CoCs furnished to her party but Dimaporo said her lawyers are now studying what moves to take against Belmonte's proclamation. Dimaporo told the Inquirer she is not yet giving up the fight. The delay in the proclamation of the winning candidate for the first congressional district was caused by the discovery of allegedly tampered CoCs from Maigo, Kauswagan and Bacolod towns during the provincial canvass in May. Initial figures, including those of the so-called tampered CoCs, Dimaporo was leading by over 10,000 votes. But Belmonte filed petitions before the Comelec for the exclusion of the questioned CoCs and urged the poll body to instead use its own copies and those of political parties in the canvassing. "It's over now. Justice and truth have prevailed," he said. Belmonte said among his priorities will be the delivery of development programs for his district and the creation of a separate district for the city. Vice Mayor Henry Dy said the creation of a separate district would be a welcome development. "Iliganons have long dreamed of a separate district because it will pave the way for more developments," he said.

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