Comelec asked to explain why Iligan has fewer registered voters

Dr. Melchie Ambalong, regional commissioner of Mindanao Commission on Women (MCW) and convenor of the PPCRV, said the city had 117,812 registered voters in 2001; 163,265 in 2004 but in 2007, the number went down to 149,246.

"This decrease should be explained by Comelec because this is susceptible to fraud and manipulation," she said.

Ambalong also complained that many registered voters' precincts were changed and were even assigned to other barangays, causing confusion and disenfranchisement of voters.

Cora Gordo complained their names didn't appear in the voters' list; other names were transferred to different precincts far from their original precincts.

Moreover, two unidentified men allegedly being pursued by the police, jumped over the fence of a resident in Steeltown village midnight of May 13, leaving crumpled pieces of paper containing lists of names of voters for a congressional candidate in the city.

"There were two houses raided here by local policemen after reports on massive vote-buying," explained a neighbor of the person in whose yard the crumpled paper was left behin.  “Those two men might have been part of midnight vote-buying operation,” he said.

Jun Enriquez, chair of the Civil Society Organization Forum for Peace, reported that vote-buying in the city ranged from P600 to P1,500 per voter depending on the candidate.

Hamidullah Atar, executive director of Reconciliatory Initiative for Development and Opportunities (RIDO) Inc., also said that vote-buying in some areas in Lanao del Sur was  pegged at P5,000 and the lowest is 200 per voter 

Enriquez also reported that opposition congressional candidate Varf Belmonte's residence was raided, 7 a.m., yesterday by regional mobile forces from Cagayan de Oro. Belmonte's licensed firearms were confiscated.

Enriquez said the raid was “allegedly at the behest of officials from Malacanang."

Belmonte filed charges against the policemen "for lack of jurisdiction."

In Maigo, Lanao del Norte, a failure of election was declared by Comelec in four precincts in the remote villages due to ballot box snatching. Supporters of rival candidates exchanged bullets, leading to their arrest and detention. 

There were also some ballots poured with indelible ink. Residents of the said town also complained of the presence of armed men in barangay Mentering.

Adona Orquillas,  a member of the provincial monitoring team of the government peace panel and a human rights advocate, told civil society groups here that "these armed men belong to Dimaporo family of Lanao del Norte. 

Lawyer Arthur Abudiente, provincial board member, explained to DXIC reporter in an interview that "the Dimaporo family wanted to create a scenario here so that counting of votes will transferred to Mindanao Civic Center (MCC)."

The Dimaporos could not be reached for comment. Three-term governor Imelda Dimaporo is running for representative of the 1st district; her husband, Rep. Abdullah Dimaporo is seeking reelection in the 2nd district and their son Khalid is running for governor. Abdullah served three terms as governor before running for representative.

In Lanao del Sur, the Comelec declared failure of election in Pantar town after discovering "padded list of voters.”

Pantar town is also a host community of evacuees from Munai, PoonaPiagapo and Kauswagan town who decided to resettle here. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)