Piñol flips, files electoral protest in Cotabato

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/18 May) – Two days after conceding defeat to incumbent Cotabato Governor Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza, former Cotabato Governor Emmanuel Piñol filed a protest before the Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC) to exclude the votes from the towns of Pikit and Carmen.

In a radio interview Saturday, Piñol alleged that the 95 percent voters’ turnout from the two towns was “highly improbable.”

Based on Commission on Elections (Comelec) results, Mendoza garnered 53,870 votes in these towns, while Piñol only got 7,134.

The PBOC, however, dismissed the petition of Piñol.

“I already expected that the PBOC will dismiss my petition outright. That’s the reason why I am planning to submit the petition at the Comelec head office in Manila anytime today (Saturday),” he stressed.

Pikit and Carmen are considered Mendoza’s bailiwicks. Mendoza’s father, Roger Taliño, is mayor of Carmen.

In the 2010 gubernatorial race where Mendoza and Piñol were pitted against each other for the first time, Mendoza got 236,966 votes against Piñol’s 199,332

In Carmen town, Mendoza garnered 22,749 votes against Piñol’s 610 during Monday’s elections.

In Pikit, Mendoza got 31,121 votes while Pinol received 6,524 votes.

“The results in Pikit and Carmen, although overwhelming, were highly improbable. This is the result of my opponent’s use of rice and money, coupled with terrorism, just to win this election,” he said.

Mendoza earlier denied Pinol’s allegations, saying she won “fair and square.”

“That was the product of transparency in the government, better infrastructure projects for the people or good governance as a whole,” she said.

Mendoza got the endorsement of the “bloc voting” Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) as well as the support of the Solidarity Vote Movement of the Catholic Laity in North Cotabato.

The INC reportedly has 20,000 members across the province.

Mendoza said “she would abide with whatever decision the Comelec will render on the protest of Piñol.”

The PBOC has yet to proclaim the winners in the provincial level due to the delay in the transmission of election results in some towns and technical problems with the precinct count optical scan machines. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)