Dead man wins in Siquijor, defeats dynasty as widow takes his place

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(Updated 9:19 p.m.) On the island known for sorcery, the dead can win elections. Dr. Jose Jay “Jojo” Samson Pernes, 49, hoped to break the political dynasty of the Fua family by running for the congressional seat in the province’s lone district.

But a day before the May 13 polls, he died. According to Pernes’ nephew, Kim Quilicot, the candidate succumbed to heart failure triggered by high blood pressure at their home in Siquijor around 3 p.m. last Sunday. He was subsequently brought to the hospital where attempts were made to resuscitate him, but to no avail. Word quickly spread that the popular physician backed by the Liberal Party had died on the eve of the election.

His widow, Dr. Marie Ann Serrano Pernes, quickly stepped up as his substitute and filed her certificate of candidacy with Comelec around 9 a.m. Monday, Election Day. The late Dr. Jojo Pernes (left) holds up his certificate of candidacy. Photo courtesy of the Pernes family.

According to Comelec Resolution 9518, “The substitute for a candidate who died… may file his Certificate of Candidacy up to mid-day of election day, provided that the substitute and the substituted have the same surnames.” With his wife to substitute for him if he gained the seat, Pernes won by a large margin, garnering 26,642 votes compared to Orlando Fua Jr., his opponent, who took 22,845 votes, according to GMA’s Eleksyon 2013 partial unofficial vote tally representing 92.5 percent of total votes.

No one knows how many of Siquijor's voters knew they were voting for a dead man. But the election will be one more bizarre event in the annals of an island known for witchcraft. Pernes was proclaimed the winner of the race Tuesday morning. Regardless of what people believe, the record will show that the late Dr. Jojo Pernes won an election from the grave not because of sorcery, but enough votes to break the chain of Siquijor's political dynasty. — BM/HS, GMA News

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