By ASA T. MADALE
May 16, 2019
MARAWI CITY: A prayer rally will be held on Friday at a madrasah compound here to be spearheaded by the losing provincial candidates to urge President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to declare a failure of elections in some towns of this province allegedly due to massive cheating.
The holding of the prayer rally came out as a result during an emergency unity meeting attended by influential leaders in this province demanding for justice for the people of Lanao del Sur as a result of massive cheating and vote-buying in the recently concluded Mid-term Nation and Local elections.
The losing Lanao del Sur gubernatorial aspirants are former TESDA Secretary Guiling “Gene” Mamondiong, PDP-Laban; Hatta D. Dimaporo, Independent; former vice mayor Agakan “Binladen” Sharief, Independent; and Sultan Bob Datimbang, Labor Party of the Philippines.
With them are losing vice gubernatorial candidates Noroden “Norway” A. Lucman, Independent; Mansawe “Dariday” Mimbalawag, LPP; and Amirudden “Abu Mohammad” Sarangani, PDP-Laban.
Mamondiong said the major agenda of the prayer rally will tackle on the disqualification of candidates who are directly or indirectly involved in vote-buying and massive cheating.
President Duterte has warned that “Vote-buying is an offense penalized with imprisonment and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.”
He said that “vote-buying happens when a person gives, offers or promises money or anything of value, gives or promises any office of employment, franchise or grant, public or private, or makes an expenditure, directly or indirectly, or cause an expenditure to be made to any person, association, corporation, entity or community in order to induce anyone or the public, in general, to vote for or against any candidate”.
Few days before the elections, a so-called Bangsamoro Multisectoral Group Against Vote-Buying and Selling asked the President to declare a failure of elections in Lanao del Sur due to massive vote-buying.
Another organization, Lanao del Sur Military and Police Retirees Reform Movement urged the Comelec to suspend the elections in the province and the city of Marawi also due to alleged massive vote-buying reported by their task force survey committee.
The group also recommends the appointment of caretakers for local elective posts should COMELEC declare a failure of elections in the localities.
The Bangsamoro Multisectoral Group also claimed they had recorded 600 sworn statements of vote selling and vote buying incidents. They said they have filed all the complaints with the COMELEC’s Legal Department.
It was reported by concerned citizens that registered voters in Marawi
City and Lanao del Sur had been flocking to houses of some barangay chairmen who acted as leaders of the buyer candidates to receive the package of Php 6,000 for 5-in-1 candidates, namely, governor, vice governor, congressman, city mayor, and vice mayor.
Alan Balangi of the Bangsamoro Movement also said that some people in Lanao del Sur were selling their votes from P5,000 to P10,000 per vote.
Yusoph Mando of the Muslim Affairs Council of the Philippines, added vote selling and vote buying are also rampant in the new Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Many are saying this is the first time in the electoral history of Lanao del Sur and Marawi City that the price of the vote reaches P20,000, which is a tantamount ground that President Duterte should declare a failure of elections.
In another related development, the Comelec has created an anti-vote buying task force following reports of vote-buying incidents across the country, Comelec Chairman Al Parreno said. (ATM/RSP).