Lanao Sur candidates to sue Comelec before MILF’s Sharia court

The candidates also mulled filing a similar case against the Comelec officials before the Regional Trial Court in Lanao del Sur.

But it is at the Sharia court that the candidates said they hope to find justice against the massive vote-padding and vote-shaving allegedly made by Comelec officials in the last May 14 elections.

"The punishment by the Sharia court will be severe and justice will be swift unlike in the Philippine legal system," Aga-Khan Mangondato Sharief said.

Sharief, who is running third in the first district of Lanao del Sur, said unscrupulous Comelec officials did not count the votes cast for him in the first three hours of the counting last May 14. He accused several municipal boards of canvassers of adding more votes to his opponents.

He said most of the votes that were not credited to him were those of his supporters who wrote "Bin Ladin."

"The Comelec definitely erred when they did not count these ballots in my favor since ‘Bin Ladin’ is one of the names I have registered," he added.

Sharief, a school owner and independent candidate, used the name "Bin Ladin" in his bid for a seat in the provincial board.

Another candidate for the provincial board, Macaurog Panandigan, had a similar complaint.

Panandigan, a Kampi candidate, claimed he lost 90 percent of the votes he expected because of vote-padding.

He said the canvassers also did not credit ballots carrying the name "Kila-kilat", one of his registered names.

"I do not know if this is simple ignorance but this is really too much," he said.

Both Sharief and Panandigan said they have already obtained the signatures of 20 other candidates for the filing of the case against the local Comelec officials.

"We have already lost our faith in these election officials. They have to answer the charges before the Bangsa Moro court system," Sharief said.

He said they will file the case against Comelec officials in one of the Sharia courts of the MILF in the Lanao provinces.

Only the ballot boxes from the town of Butig arrived early at the collection center in the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol late Saturday afternoon.

But the boxes were all empty because no special election was held in Butig after the board of election inspectors failed to show up at the polling centers.

Kahyr Panzar, a Lakas-CMD poll watcher, said the voters waited for several hours for the election inspectors to arrive. He said the voters left when they heard the sound of clapping of hands from afar.

"The residents thought the applause was a signal for an attack. So they left the polling center in haste," Panzar said.

Heavily armed soldiers and policemen were visible in all the 13 towns of Lanao del Sur where the Comelec held special polls Saturday after threats of violence led to a failure of elections last May 14. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)