No winner yet in Lanao Norte congressional race
What’s wrong? Waiting for miracles?
ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/02 June) – Allegations of vote-padding and vote-shaving
have prevented the provincial board of canvassers in Lanao del Norte to
declare a winner for the congressional seat of the province’s first district.
Lawyers for the Genuine Opposition cited as proof election returns coming from
Maigo town which they claimed were tampered.
“The original figures of the COC (certificates of canvass) were ‘snowpeaked’
(erased and changed), numbers of votes were altered, signatures and ink used
which appeared in the COC were different compared to other authentic COCs held
by Namfrel (National Movement for Free Elections), majority and minority
parties,” lawyer Arthur Abudiente, lead counsel of the opposition, told the
provincial Commission on Elections.The opposition lawyers also claimed that the votes for Nikki Badelles (Team
Unity) and Varf Belmonte (GO) were reduced while those of Gov. Imelda Dimaporo
were padded citing the COCs from Maigo, Bacolod and Kauswagan towns.
The examined COCs were taken from the controversial three ballot boxes from
the same towns that were “forcibly opened” last May 19 inside the provincial
legislative building based on the reports of Alex Cabornay, regional director
of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) in Region X.
In comparison, the COCs held by Namfrel, PPRCV, majority and minority parties
showed that in Bacolod Badelles got 1,676 votes, Belmonte 2,790 and Dimaporo
In Maigo, COCs held by the same groups showed that Badelles got 2,956 votes,
Belmonte 1,791 and Dimaporo 1,550.
In Kauswagan, Badelles got 2,653 votes, Belmonte 2,568 and Dimaporo 2,725.
But the “tampered COCs” said that in Bacolod Badelles got 239 votes, Belmonte
223 and Dimaporo 8,605. In Maigo, it was 458 votes for Badelles, 268 for
Belmonte, and 7,383 for Dimaporo. In Kauswagan, the three candidates got 288,
328 and 10,225 votes, respectively.
No alterations were cited for the votes of Leo Zaragoza and Uriel Borja, both
of whom have conceded defeat.
The Comelec en banc has directed the PBOC “to retrieve and open the envelop
containing the COCs from the tampered ballot boxes to check if there are
discrepancies” and submit these to the NBI for technical investigation if
alterations were found.
The memorandum also directed the provincial Comelec “to canvass the admitted
tampered ballot boxes…but must refrain from declaring any candidate until
ordered by the Commission.”
The newly reconstituted PBOC led by lawyer Lordino Salvana, convened Friday at
the legislative hall after a group of Maranaos who barricaded in front of the
building voluntarily dispersed around 10 a.m. Sources said that two prominent
politicians in the province told the barricaders to leave.
The barricade prevented the PBOC from entering the building the past two days.
Abudiente expressed objection to the Comelec order. He said the allegedly
tampered COCs should not be canvassed as these would be their evidence in
legal actions they might take.
Lawyer Rogelio Bagabuyo, counsel for GO senatorial candidate Aquilino “Koko”
Pimentel III, wanted the canvassing of votes for senatorial candidates to be
prioritized. He said problems relating to local candidates were not [his] concern.
Two radio stations here aired live coverage of the canvassing of votes as soon
as the PBOC convened.
Zaragoza, speaking through the radio stations, asked all his supporters “to go
out and protect your votes by joining a vigil at the provincial capitol.”
As of this writing, a number of people have already gathered in front of St.
Michael Church. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)