Independence Day in Iligan: 2 parades for truth and justice, vs electoral fraud

The employees of city government and its agencies, led by mayor Lawrence Cruz held a traditional civic-military parade around the city at 7 a.m.

As traditionally done, bands played at the city's Freedom Plaza where the parade ended and where a short program was held.

"True independence is always anchored on truth and justice,” the mayor said.

At 9:30 a.m., members of the multi-sectoral group, Movement for Truth Justice and Peace (MTJP) who converged at the city's post office, also marched down the streets "to commemorate the day within the context of truth and independence."

Members brought placards and streamers urging the Commission on Elections en banc to set aside the three allegedly tampered certificates of canvass (CoCs) from the towns of Bacolod, Maigo and Kauswagan and not to use it as basis for proclaiming the representative of the first district of Iligan City and Lanao del Norte.

The National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) count had shown Varf Belmonte leading the race in the first congressional district with incumbent governor Imelda Dimaporo placing third. But the alleged tampered certificates would have Dimaporo leading.

Dimaporo’s husband, Abdullah has been proclaimed re-elected congressman of the 2nd district while their son Khalid has been proclaimed governor.

“We expressed our will through our ballpens but even our votes were erased by snowpake and easily tampered or altered in exchange for money,” said Aisah, a Moro mother.

"I may live and die with this fraud and lies but what will happen to our children if we will allow cheats to lead us… the power-that-be is playing us like toys," she said.

Fr. Nasser Zaragoza, parish priest of Bacolod, Lanao del Norte and co-convenor of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), urged the government “to investigate who forcibly opened the three ballot boxes and those who ‘snowpaked’  the CoCs… and enforce penalties to these offenders in accordance to the law.”

Fr. Albert Mendez, head of PPCRV-Lanao, also bared they  and Iligan Diocese’s Vicar-General Jemar Vera Cruz, head of the MTJP, have been receiving death threats through text messages.

Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo in an interview with DXLS Sunday, criticized priests for their alleged political bias for a politician he did not name.

"We are not bad administrators and our history is good," he said.

But Father Zaragoza said the participation of the church “is based on the moral issues on the turnout of election.”

“I will go on fasting if those who tampered the CoCs will be declared the representative of our district," he said.

The protesters raised their clenched fists and sang "Bayan Ko.”

Councilor Chonilo Ruiz said, "with the law in our favor, we will win in this fight."

Lawyers of the Genuine Opposition, led by Sixto Brillantes, have already filed their petition before Comelec to set aside the tampered CoCs.

Brillantes also bared that "they are contemplating to file criminal charges against those who tampered the CoCs for electoral sabotage under R.A. 9369.

"Its just a matter of pinpointing those who were responsible for tampering the CoCs,” he said.

Rep. Dimaporo argued that the petition of the opposition should be filed at the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal.