By JIGGER J. JERUSALEM
and JOEY NACALABAN
A COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) official, credited for ridding Cagayan de Oro of thousands of “flying voters” in 2007, died in a freak accident in Sitio Patag, Barangay Bagontaas, Valencia City yesterday morning.
Police said the victim, lawyer and Bukidnon elections supervisor Stalin Baguio, was driving a Toyota Fortuner bearing license plates ABE-6448 at around 10 am when a rock from an oncoming loaded truck fell and smashed the part of the windshield in front of the driver.
Police said the rock went straight to Baguio’s face, and then his vehicle veered and crashed into a drainage ditch.
Baguio and his companion Lee Marvin Rapirap, a technician at the Valencia election office, were rushed to the Adventist Medical Center.
Rapirap survived but Baguio died while in the hospital’s emergency room.
Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, Valencia police chief, said the rock was larger than the victim’s head and very heavy which explained why the windshield did not serve its purpose.
Sereñas said the truck was loaded with rocks, and these were left uncovered, a violation of the ordinances of Bukidnon and its component city Valencia.
He said investigators got hold of a CCTV recording and were examining the footage in the hope of locating the truck and identifying its owner and driver.
If identified, he said the driver alone would be charged with reckless imprudence resulting in homicide and damage to property.
Baguio has been credited by former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. for purging Cagayan de Oro’s voters’ list when he served here during the Emano administration.
From 2001 to 2007, Baguio rid Cagayan de Oro of some 20 thousand “flying voters,” said Pimentel.
It was, according to the former senator and former Cagayan de Oro mayor, a “job well done” by Baguio to make the elections clean and credible as much as possible.
Pimentel said the “flying voters” became a bane in the city for years “but it was only Mr. Baguio who seized the initiative in striking them out from the masterlist of registered, qualified voters.”
Pimentel said he found out about the “flying voters” and double registrants in the records of the Comelec-Cagayan de Oro weeks preceding the May 2001 elections.
Baguio’s counterpart in Cagayan de Oro, city elections officer Ramil Acol called the tragic accident a big loss to the Comelec.
“Stalin was a good friend of mine. We were fraternity brothers in a fraternity. He was a good person,” Acol said.