Canvassing of Maguindanao poll results proceed in new venue PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 12 May 2016 11:40

Threatened by criminal suit, partisans who picketed at the Shariff Kabunsuan Complex in Cotabato City to prevent the transfer in Buluan town of the canvassing of election results from Maguindanao province dispersed Tuesday, ending a 24-hour standoff that caused public inconvenience.

Sources from the Commission in Elections on Wednesday confirmed that the canvassing activities in Buluan, capital town of Maguindanao, will proceed as programmed.

Comelec officials said the proclamation of the winning candidates for provincial elective posts shall be done, barring legal impediments, as soon as tabulations are over.

The Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas online poll count stated that as of 7:45 a.m. Wednesday, the reelectionist governor of Maguindanao, Esmael Mangudadatu, already has 206,516 votes while challenger Kagui Ali Midtimbang trailed far behind with only 112,510 votes.

The reelectionist vice governor of the province, Lester Sinsuat, is also leading in the KBP’s tally, which showed he already has 207,335 votes, as against the 92,250 votes garnered by rival Dustin Mastura.

Maguindanao has 634,323 registered voters but only more than half of them go out to cast vote during elections owing to mobility problems, for those in marshy areas near the 220,000-hectare Liguasan Delta, and due to geographical and security constraints.

Mangudadatu’s bid for a third and last term was backed by 26 of Maguindanao’s 36 mayors. He is the provincial chairman for Maguindanao of the Liberal Party.

Lawyers of the now upbeat Mangudadatu announced late Tuesday they are to file criminal charges against followers of Midtimbang for mauling three employees of the provincial government on suspicions they were to smuggle out election flash disks from the 300-seater Shariff Kabunsuan amphitheater inside the 32-hectare compound of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao southeast of Cotabato City.

Some 300 followers of Midtimbang converged at the surroundings of the supposed site for the canvassing of the election returns from Maguindanao without any rally permit from the Cotabato City government or a written imprimatur from the executive department of ARMM.

The three badly beaten provincial government employees were rushed to a hospital by policemen and soldiers guarding the ARMM compound, where dozens of offices under the regional government are located.

Since midnight Tuesday, reporters in Cotabato City have been receiving preposterous news feed, via text and private messages from fictitious Facebook accounts, purporting that Midtimbang had been proclaimed winner in the gubernatorial race by officials of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the ARMM police office.

One reporter wrote on a Facebook thread “baka naka-shabu o lasing ang mga gumawa nitong mga pakulo na ito” and branded “heretic” the spreading propaganda.

Officials of the 6th ID and the ARMM police refuted the claims, asserting that whoever was behind it is obviously ignorant of Comelec protocols and operating procedures.

Sources from the military intelligence community said they now have clues on who instigated the disinformation campaign.

Soldiers and policemen have been deployed around the vicinity of the satellite office of the provincial government in Buluan town, where the canvassing is to be held, to forestall possible security breaches.