COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 15 May) – Maguindanao Governor Esmael Mangudadatu is expected to be proclaimed winner of the Maguindanao gubernatorial race against lone opponent Sultan Kudarat mayor Datu Tucao Mastura, leading as of 12 noon Wednesday by at least 90,000 votes in the count of transmitted results from 32 of 36 towns.
Mangudadatu (Liberal Party) is leading Mastura (United Nationalist Alliance) by at least 90,209 votes with only four 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.
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. 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.”
The PBOC is still awaiting the results from the towns of Northern Kabuntan, Gen. SK Pendatun, Parang and Sultan Kudarat. It went on recess at noon and was supposed to resume at 2 p.m., but as of 4:30 p.m. no result from any of the four towns has been transmitted.
Based on the transmitted results from the 32 towns, Mangudadatu got 172,619 votes against Mastura’s 82,410 or a margin of 90,209.
Mangudadatu is certain of victory, his younger brother Khadafeh, who is leading in the election of Assemblyman for the second district of the ARMM’s Regional Legislative Assembly, told MindaNews.
The four towns have a total number of 91,309 registered voters, with Mastura’s bailiwick, Sultan Kudarat, as the vote-richest at 40,058 registered voters.
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), Khadafeh said, claiming the three other towns are their bailiwicks.
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 Tuesday night the winners led by Shameen Mastura, daughter of Tucao Mastura, Umpar said.
In the municipality of 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 on the replacement of the defective memory card.
Mangudadatu’s other relatives are also winning or have won the elections.
Another brother of Mangudadatu, Zajid, is leading the congressional race against Annie Datumanong, daughter of long-time Maguindanao second district Rep. Simeon Datumanong.
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.