105 registrants in mining town ‘flying voters’; vice mayor says there are more

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/29 November) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has nullified the applications for registration as voters of 105 alleged “flying voters” in Tampakan town in South Cotabato.

Anwar Paidumama, Tampakan Comelec officer, said Thursday the town’selection registration board (ERB) excluded the applicants from its list of registered voters after failing to prove that they were
legitimate residents of the area.
He said the nullified registration applications were among the 620 individuals that were earlier sought for exclusion by the town’s Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition alliance as they were supposedly “flying voters” and non-residents of Tampakan.
“The ERB decided to disapprove the 105 applications based on certifications contesting their claims as local residents and other related evidences,” he said in a radio interview.

Paidumama said some of the questioned applicants failed to appear before the ERB hearings last week, prompting them to immediately nullify their registration applications.
The official said the ERB, which comprises the Comelec and representatives from the Department of
Education and the Office of the Municipal Civil Registrar, approved the other applicants included in the petition after showing proof that they were valid residents of Tampakan.
He said that aside from showing documents regarding their residency, the approved applicants presented supporting statements from officials and other residents of their listed barangays.

During the interviews conducted by the ERB, Paidumama said they gave consistent answers regarding some facts about the areas they belong and were able to properly name the officials, teachers and their other fellow residents.

“Through our verifications and evaluation of evidences presented, we were able to establish whether the applicants were just lying or making truthful statements,” he said.

“We believe that all those included in our voter’s list right now are bona fide residents of Tampakan,” Paidumama added.
But Tampakan Vice Mayor Relly Leysa, who earlier filed the petition for the nullification of the alleged “flying voters,” stood pat on their claims against the 620 applicants and noted that they were not satisfied with the ERB’s decision.
“We’re now studying the ERB decision for the possible filing of a court petition,” Leysa said.
Under Comelec rules, any party or individual may seek for the inclusion and exclusion of the registered voters that were upheld by the ERB by filing a petition before any local court.
Leysa, who is seeking the town’s mayoralty post in the 2013 midterm national and local elections, earlier said their verification showed that the 620 applicants were not legitimate residents of Tampakan.
The vice mayor will challenge re-electionist Mayor Leonardo Escobillo of the United Nationalist Alliance.
The official said they obtained certifications from officials of barangays and puroks declaring the 620 applicants as non-residents of their areas.
He said it turned out that some of the applicants were official residents of nearby Koronadal City, Tupi town in South Cotabato and Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)