Indigenous leader wins mayoral race in Palawan

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Palawan (CNN Philippines, May 16) — The mayor-elect of Rizal town, Palawan hails from the indigenous group Pala'wan.

The 77-year-old independent candidate Otol Odi has been proclaimed winner of the mayoral race, besting four other candidates with an overwhelming 8,575 votes. His closest rival was Ramon Shita who had 3,414 votes. Rizal is a first class municipality less than 200 kilometers from the capital Puerto Princesa.

Incumbent Mayor Norman Ong, who won the vice mayoralty race, said he is happy with the result of the polls and that he is willing to give his full support to the new mayor.

Odi previously served as barangay captain of Punta Baja for almost two decades. His rise to the town's top post could be the first time a member of an indigenous group would be leading Rizal.

He has vowed to focus on programs that will promote the welfare of indigenous peoples, farmers, and the poor.

According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the Pala'wan indigenous group has a population of approximately 40,630.

Journalist Catherine Santos contributed to this report.