By Ali Macabalang | Manila Bulletin
In his Facebook post entitled “Money rules Lanao politics,” National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary Saidamen Pangarungan lamented: “The people of Lanao del Sur and Marawi could only blame themselves for our province (being) tagged No. 1 poorest in the Philippines because we elect our leaders with only one criterion – the highest bidder who buys their votes.”
“Money is king. Money rules our Lanao politics,” said Pangarungan, who once served as governor of Lanao del Sur.
“The Holy Qur’an enjoined that unless the people change their ways, Allah will never change their condition,” added Pangarungan, who had earned the reputation of having helped the government of Cory Aquino in abolishing over 2,000 “ghost” barangays in Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte.
In portraying the sad governance in his erstwhile turf, Pangarungan quoted a hyperbolic adage by Singapore’s Lee Kwan Yew that bad politics begets a governance that is “poor the people, buy the people, and off the people.”
Pangarungan said the mass devastations caused by the 2017 Marawi siege were a tragedy that should have given a lesson and warning to the people of Lanao del Sur to change.
The NCMF official corroborated complaints by losing candidates in Lanao del Sur and Marawi about alleged blatant vote-buying, ballots pre-shading, and other electoral frauds in the areas during the midterm polls.
Video footages and photos of ballot-shedding cases in the province and city have been uploaded on social media and compiled by defeated candidates in the gubernatorial, vice gubernatorial, congressional, mayoral, and vice mayoral races as addendum to their formal protests to higher authorities at the height of the campaign period.
Another photo showing a suspected female member of a board of election inspectors pre-shading a bunch of ballots was posted on Facebook on Sunday by Dr. Saffrullah Dipatuan, health minister of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Several Maranao professionals have posted commentaries in support of a local call for the declaration of a failure of elections in Lanao del Sur and Marawi City.
Ali “Bebot” Mindalano, former administrator of the Southern Philippines Development Authority, claimed on Facebook that “the right to suffrage died last May 13 in Lanao del Sur.”