COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/15 May) – Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu arrived at the venue of the provincial canvassing here at 5:15 p.m. to await his proclamation as winner of the gubernatorial race against lone opponent, Sultan Kudarat mayor Datu Tucao Mastura.
Mangudadatu (Liberal Party), accompanied by running mate Datu Lester Sinsuat, and brothers Zahid and Khadafeh who are also awaiting proclamation as vice governor, congressman and assemblyman of the second district, respectively, is leading Mastura (United Nationalist Alliance) by at least 90,000 in the count of transmitted results from 33 of 36 towns.
Mangudadatu is leading with only three towns awaiting transmission of results to the Provincial Board of Canvassers convened at the Shariff Kabunsuan Cultural Center at the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao compound here.
PBOC member-secretary Paharudin Akot announced that in the canvassing of votes from 33 of 36 towns, Mangudadatu got 180,756 votes against Mastura’s 86,651 or a lead of 94,105.
Lawyer Israelito Torreon, chief legal counsel of Mangudadatu, asked the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) to lower the canvassing threshold and allow the proclamation of Mangudadatu, noting that as early as 12 noon, even if the votes of the four towns were given to Mastura, Mangudadatu would still win the race.
He said it is “very clear” that Mangudadadtu “made history in Maguindanao (for this) landslide victory.”
Mangudadatu said he knows he can be proclaimed even without waiting for the results of the remaining towns but would want to wait because he wants to be proclaimed along with his running mate, Sinsuat.
Torreon had asked the PBOC for a copy of the certification of votes cast in the three remaining towns which have yet to transmit their results: Gen. SK Pendatun, Parang and Sultan Kudarat towns.
The three towns have a total of 83,603 registered voters with Mastura’s bailiwick, Sultan Kudarat, having 40,058 votes.
Northern Kabuntalan’s results were transmitted at around 5 p.m. with Mastura receiving 2,874 votes against Mangudadatu’s 2,721.
The Mangudadatus arrived shortly after the reading of the Northern Kabuntalan results.
As of 6:30 p.m. the Mangudatus and Sinsuat had yet to be proclaimed.
The Mastura camp is mulling the filing of an electoral protest, Maguindanao Vice Governor Ismael “Dustin” Mastura, a candidate for Assemblyman of the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly, and nephew of Tucao, told MindaNews at noon. He alleged “massive vote-buying,” “terrorism” and “manipulation” of the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines in Monday’s polling.
Dustin was Mangudadatu’s running mate in 2010.
Lawyer Ishak Mastura, Dustin’s brother, told MindaNews that “the crux of election manipulation is that the ballot once fed to the PCOs doesn’t send or transmit automatically to the servers,” unlike in 2010. “It is sent only during closing of voting period which can allow the excess ballots to be voted upon by a few persons or the ballots re-fed.”
Mangudadatu told MindaNews that allegations of vote-buying and cheating are “black propaganda.”
“Walang vote-buying” (there was no vote-buying), he said, adding, they won because the people know whom to choose.
Mangudadatu’s younger brother, Khadafeh said of the Masturas’ reaction to his brother’s expected victory: “normal reaction ng talunan. Pag natalo, nadaya. Pag nanalo, nandaya (That’s the normal reaction of a losing candidate. If you lose, you were cheated. If you win, you cheated).
“Panalo pa rin si Kuya kahit na kanila na yang Sultan Kudarat (my brother would still win even if Mastura gets all of Sultan Kudarat’s votes), Khafeh said earlier.
Sultan Kudarat town has not transmitted to the PBOC because of defective memory card in a clustered precinct in Barangay Simuay comprising 905 votes, Acting Election Officer Normida Umpar told MindaNews.
But since the number of votes does not affect the results at the local level, they proclaimed Tusday night the winners led by Shameen Mastura, daughter of Tucao Mastura, Umpar said.
In the gubernatorial race in Sultan Kudarat, where Mastura is completing his third term as mayor, Mastura won 37,797 votes against Mangudadatu’s 399, according to the municipal canvass report from 55 of 56 clustered precincts, a copy of which Umpar showed to MindaNews.
Umpar said they are still awaiting advice replacement of the defective memory card.
Poll monitors’ report
In a press statement on Wednesday, Salic Ibrahim, chair of the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, Inc. (Citizens CARE) said Monday’s elections “were way better than the previous ones” in that in spite of some isolated incidents reported by their field monitors and the media, no failure of elections was declared in the region especially in Lanao del Sur which has a a long-standing history of violent and intense electoral contests.”
But Citizens CARE noted technical glitches such as malfunctioning PCOS machines. In Maguindanao where some PCOS machines bogged down, “secrecy of voting was sacrificed after poll workers had to collect accomplished ballots and personally feed them into the replacement PCOS.”
Citizens CARE said the conduct of the voting was “generally peaceful with isolated incidents. It cited missing names from the voters’ list as a problem, as well as the “obvious collaboration between BEIs (Board of Election Inspectors) and political candidates in some municipalities in Maguindanao in manipulating the process of election.” It did not name the municipalities.
Citizens CARE also reported vote-buying and harassment in Lanao del Sur where votes “were being bought as high as 2,000 pesos.” The poll monitor was silent on vote-buying and harassment in the other ARMM provinces of Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi.
Mangudatus and Ampatuans
At least eight Mangudadatus are winning or have won the elections.
Zajid won the congressional race against Annie Datumanong, daughter of long-time Maguindanao second district Rep. Simeon Datumanong.
Aside from the governor, the congressman and himself, Khadafeh said five other Mangudadatus were elected: his wife Zehan, now mayor of Pandag; Lorena, wife of his brother Jong, now mayor of Buluan; his nephew Prince, son of the governor, reelected as vice mayor of Buluan; Azrel, wife of Mayor Freddie Mangudadatu of Mangudadatu town as mayor of President Quirino in Sultan Kudarat province and cousin Suharto “Teng” Mangudadatu, who won a third term as governor of Sultan Kudarat province.
Also in the second district, the wives of the detained Ampatuans were reelected. Bongbong Midtimbang, wife of former ARMM Governor Zaldy Amptuan as mayor of Datu Hoffer town; Reshal, wife of former Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. as mayor of Datu Unsay; and Zahara, wife of former Shariff Aguak mayor Anwar Ampatuan, as mayor of Shariff Aguak.
Another relative, Engr. Zamzamin Ampatuan, former Energy Undersecretary, was proclaimed mayor of Rajah Buayan town at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
Zamzamin, a civil engineer, is a son of a cousin of the Ampatuan patriarch, Andal Ampatuan, Sr. His brother, Yacob, is the incumbent mayor.
In 1989, Zamzamin was appointed by then President Corazon Aquino as Department of Trade and Industry director, when he was 26 years old. He was appointed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as Executive Director of the Office of Muslim Affairs, “the first Muslim to have attained the highest rank as Career Executive Service Officer,” he told MindaNews. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)