Hataman wins mayoralty in Sumisip special polls

SUMISIP, Basilan (Mindanews/13 March) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared Sunday morning Saliman Hataman, the Liberal Party (LP) mayoralty bet, as the winner in this town’s special elections for mayor.

The special election was held Saturday and covered five precincts in Barangay Lower Cabengbeng. The Comelec clustered the precincts into three.

The special election was held almost five months after the Comelec unseated this town’s Mayor Haber Asarul, the standard bearer the
Lakas-Kampi.

Asarul, who was declared winner in the May 10, 2011 elections, was unseated last October after Hataman filed a protest and petitioned the
Comelec to nullify Asarul’s proclamation.

Hataman cited in his petition statistical improbability. He got zero vote in Barangay Lower Cabengbeng against Asarul’s 874 votes.

Hataman was ahead by 372 with 8,191 votes against Asarul’s 7,819 votes when the Comelec nullified the latter’s proclamation.

In Saturday’s special election, Hataman garnered 202 votes increasing his final total number of votes to 8,393 against Asarul’s 8,182,
having garnered 363 votes.

Only 581 of the 929 registered voters in Lower Cabengbeng cast their votes while 16 were declared spoiled votes.

The special election was held under tight security as three battalions of combined policemen and military forces were deployed.

Basilan police director Senior Supt. Alex Linesis said half of the forces was deployed a day ahead of Saturday’s special polls.

The troops cordoned off the Sapah Langay Elementary School in Lower Cabengbeng and checkpoints were established on all roads leading to
the school.

The Comelec deputized policemen from Zamboanga City as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

However, the election officials, BEIs and hundreds of policemen escorting them had to walk some five kilometers to reach Sapah Langay
Elementary School as the trucks that ferried them got stuck on the muddy road in Barangay Upper Cabengbeng.
Despite the tight security, two voters traded punches an hour after the polling precincts were opened. It  was followed by a brawl an hour
later.

Voters waiting for their turn to cast their votes, scampered for safety when one of them shouted “it’s a bomb” after a round object
fell in the middle of the crowd.
It turned out to be a coconut that fell from the tree.

The Comelec decided to hold the counting and canvassing of votes in Barangay Tumahubong, the commercial center of this town, citing
security reasons. The school in Lower Cabengbeng doesn’t have electricity and is close to the coastal area.

Hundreds of battle-ready military and police forces escorted the Comelec officials and BEIs when they transported the ballot boxes to
Tumahubong Elementary School.

Hundreds of military and police forces also cordoned off the Tumahubong Elementary School where the counting and canvassing of
votes and the proclamation of winner were held. (MindaNews)

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