GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 May) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in nearby Polomolok town in South Cotabato has belied reports that a local political camp has allegedly obtained copies of official ballots allotted for the area and even started filling them up for use in the May 13 elections.
Anwar Paidumama, acting Polomolok municipal election officer, said Wednesday all election materials and paraphernalia that were assigned for the town have remained intact and were never accessed by any candidate or political camp.
“We’ve been regularly checking them and so far, they’re all accounted for and in the same physical arrangement,” the official said.
Tension has been rising in the area since last week as three of the town’s four mayoralty candidates complained to the Comelec that the camp of outgoing Mayor Isidro Lumayag supposedly accessed the official ballots intended for Monday’s polls.
The mayor’s daughter Honey Lumayag-Matti is seeking to replace him in the upcoming elections under the administration-backed Liberal Party-Nationalist People’s Coalition-Achiever’s with Integrity Movement (LP-NPC-AIM) slate.
United Nationalist Alliance mayoralty candidate Nilda Almencion and independents Fernando Faldas and Leo Cordova asked the Comelec to investigate the matter and make sure that the town’s election materials and paraphernalia are properly protected.
Cordova, who is a lawyer, claimed that they have two eyewitnesses who could prove that the mayor’s camp has obtained some of the official ballots and even filled up or shaded them during a recent session with their supporters.
“But the problem was that those who participated in the activity placed their signatures and thumb marks in the ballots and were then given money,” he said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s TV Patrol Socsksargen.
Faldas said he cannot make any conclusion on whether the mayor’s camp has actually accessed the official ballots but wants the Comelec to shed light on the matter.
But the incumbent mayor said the other political camps might have misinterpreted the mock elections that they earlier conducted for their poll watchers.
He said they provided their watchers with sample ballots and showed them how the actual voting takes place to make them familiar with the process.
“They actually filled up the ballots and shaded them. This is in preparation for their deployment to the polling precincts,” Lumayag said.
The mayor said the ballots that they used for the activity were copies of the sample official ballots posted by the Comelec on its website.
Owing to the incident, Paidumama said he has asked all political camps and election watchdogs in the area to assist them in watching over the official election materials and paraphernalia.
He urged them to immediately report to the Comelec or local authorities any irregular activity related with the conduct of the elections.
“We decided to transfer the election materials from the treasurer’s office to the municipal gymnasium to make sure that they are properly secured and to avoid further suspicions from various camps,” he said.