Inquirer.net – Losing candidates seek special polls in Lanao

By Tina G. Santos | Inquirer.net

Four losing gubernatorial candidates in Lanao del Sur have asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to nullify the results of the midterm polls in the province, saying it was marred by fraud and irregularities.

“Fraud and other election irregularities of such a massive degree attended the May 13 elections in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City that what could have been a democratic process of ascertaining the will of the electorate was totally vitiated and muted,” said a petition filed by the candidates in the Comelec national office on Thursday.

It was signed by Guiling Mamondiong (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan), Sultan Bob Datimbang (Labor Party Philippines) and independent candidates Hatta Dimaporo and Binladen Sharief.

Absolute power

“[T]here appears compelling and persuasive reasons to grant the instant petition to annul the results of the election; to declare failure of election in the province of Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City; and to schedule a special election thereat,” they added.

They invoked the “absolute power” of the Comelec “to annul election results or declare failure of election results or declare a failure of elections if warranted by the circumstances so as to shield the expression of the will of the electorate from being denigrated by unscrupulous candidates.”

‘Preshading’

They claimed that winning candidate Mamintal Alonto Adiong and his partymates in Lakas-CMD had engaged in massive vote-buying before and during the elections, through their political leaders and barangay officials.

They also claimed that there were “preshading” of ballots favoring specific candidates, allegedly done by municipal and barangay officials allied with Adiong. Barangay officials and policemen, they said, entered polling precincts and were allowed to assist illiterate voters.

They said their watchers were barred from entering polling places by supporters of Adiong and his party.

The petitioners were among those who joined a protest rally in Marawi City on May 17, demanding from the Comelec to declare a failure of elections in Marawi and in Lanao del Sur over alleged massive fraud in the just concluded elections.

No irregularity

The Inquirer tried but failed to reach Adiong, the incumbent vice governor of Lanao del Sur, on Thursday.

But in an interview on May 17, Adiong belied the allegations of election fraud and other irregularities.

Adiong then showed to the Inquirer a document from the Comelec and Philippine National Police in the province that certified that no report or complaint relating to an election offense had been filed against him in Lanao del Sur as of that date.

He said the Comelec in Manila had already created a task force that would look into reported vote-buying and advised his accusers to wait for the results of the investigation.

Lanao clan

Adiong will take over the post that will be vacated by his mother, outgoing Gov. Soraya Alonto Adiong. Mamintal’s son, Mujam, was elected vice governor.

Mamintal’s brother, Ansaruddin, will represent the first congressional district of Lanao del Sur in Congress.

Norodin Alonto Lucman, who lost in the vice gubernatorial race, earlier accused the Adiong clan of masterminding the massive fraud and anomalies during the elections. Lucman and Mamintal are cousins.

Lucman had also claimed that village chiefs, members of the board of election inspectors, Comelec officials and some military officers allegedly colluded with the Adiongs in perpetrating the massive cheating in the province. —WITH A REPORT FROM DIVINA SUSON

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