BY DABET CASTAÑEDA
ELECTION WATCH/BREAKING NEWS
May 28, 2007 – 5:01 pm
MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur – Were the voters from Barangay (village) Kadigilan, Lumbayanage town in Lanao del Sur not aware of the national elections?
In precinct number 0010-A, the counting area in one of the classrooms in Amai Pak Pak Central Elementary School in this city where votes for Brgy. Kadigilan were being counted, the ballots did not contain votes for senators. With this predicament, the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and poll watchers decided to place the tally sheets for national positions at the back of the classroom. Later, the tally sheets were used as table cloth.
In some other precincts, the BEI deliberately did not read votes cast for some senatorial candidates. In other precincts where the BEI read the votes for senators, tally sheets showed that Genuine Opposition (GO) candidates Loren Legarda, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and Antonio Trillanes IV were leading the senatorial race. The only Team Unity (TU) candidate who got as many votes as the GO candidates was Jamalul T. Kiram, a sultanate from the island-province of Sulu.
This development made Kontra Daya (Anti-Fraud), an election watchdog that sent a delegation to observe the special elections in this province, to conclude that it is “impossible” and “incredible” for TU candidates to win 12-0 in the Lanao del Sur special polls.
Emmi de Jesus, Kontra Daya spokesperson for its Lanao del Sur special elections team, said this is also a “cause of alarm” as the empty tally sheets “might be used to pad votes for TU candidates who are tailing the senatorial race.”
“This practice, whether deliberate or not, is very susceptible to machinations by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and other parties in interest,” De Jesus said.
De Jesus said their team also observed numerous irregularities in the conduct of the special polls here. In Masiu town, an hour ride from this city, de Jesus said they talked to voters who were not marked with indelible ink on their fingers after voting. When asked why, the voters casually told the Kontra Daya members, “para makaboto uli kami” (so we can vote again).
There was also unreasonable and unexplained delay of the counting of votes in public schools in this city despite the presence of the BEIs and the poll watchers. In several counting areas, poll watchers were unreasonably barred from entering, De Jesus said.(Bulatlat.com)