COTABATO CITY: Special elections in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were generally peaceful, which local voters attributed to the presence of adequate security forces at the polling centers.
The Comelec on Saturday held special elections nationwide including areas in ARMM such Binidayan town in Lanao del Sur; Tamparan town in Lanao del Sur; Sultan Kudarat town in Maguindanao; the towns of Pata and Panglima Estino (New Panamao) in Sulu.
There were no other reported untoward incidents in the areas except in Tamparan, where a ballot box was reportedly snatched by unidentified men in Barangay Dilausan, the same place where one school was burned down hours before the voting time on May 9.
Senior Supt. Antonio Gardiola, the deputy chief for administration of the ARMM police, said the conduct of special polls in Lanao del Sur was generally peaceful though there were minor commotions that the police and army were able to settle.
In Maguindanao, Estilleta Orbase, Sultan Kudarat election officer, told reporters the specials poll in Barangay Katuli was completed within the day “without delays and without any problem.”
The peaceful conduct of the special polls was attributed to police officers, who served as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs), and army officers who secured the perimeters of polling centers.
Full transmissions of election returns were expected to be completed after the successful conduct of another special election in Tamparan.
Meanwhile, the Comelec has proclaimed in this city officials in the regional level who won in the May 9 synchronized national and local election.
Liberal Party bets in ARMM, Governor Mujiv Hataman and Vice Gov. Haroun Al-Rashid Lucman, were officially proclaimed by ARMM Regional Board of Canvassers led by lawyer Mike Abas on Saturday afternoon.
Hataman was declared victorious after garnering 875,200 votes over 341,250 votes received by his rival.
Hataman’s running mate Lucman won 716,555 votes against his rivals, who obtained less than 100,000 votes each.
A few days ago, Comelec officers declared Esmale Mangudadatu as governor of Maguindanao and Lucman’s cousin Soraya Alonto-Adiong as new governor of Lanao del Sur. Mangudadatu and Alonto-Adiong both ran under LP.
Hataman’s elder brother, three-term Congressman Jim Hataman-Saliman, was earlier proclaimed Basilan governor.
Tawi-Tawi reelectionist Gov. Nurbert Sahali and his sister, incumbent Rep. Ruby Sahali-Generale, both LP bets, were also proclaimed winners after overtaking their rivals’ votes.
Sulu incumbent Governor Sakur Tan and his entire LP teammates for two congressional seats and municipal positions were also proclaimed winners.
Almost all winners in ARMM were LP candidates, but administration standard bearer Mar Roxas lost to PDP-Laban presidential bet and Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte at the polling centers.
LP vice presidential aspirant, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo won in all of ARMM provinces, except in Sulu where rival Senator Bongbong Marcos outvoted her.
In provinces near the ARMM, the Comelec also proclaimed recently returning governor Imelda “Angging” Quibranza Dimaporo in Lanao del Norte; reelected Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza in North Cotabato; and returning Gov. Datu Pax Mangungudatu in Sultan Kudarat.
There were some incidents of violence during the ARMM special polls but things went generally peaceful.
In Sulu province, a son of a mayoralty candidate was killed on the eve of special elections in two towns there.
Police said Dado Estino was fatally hacked by a lone attacker on Friday in Patikul town. The assailant escaped after the killing of Estino, whose father Kadil was running for mayor in Panglima Estino town where special elections had been held over the weekend.
It was not immediately known whether the attack was politically motivated, but Dado’s father was running against his own nephew, Benshar – son of Munib Estino, who ran for vice governor, but lost miserably against Nurunisah Tan, mother of re-elected Governor Tan.
Both Munib and Kadil were bitter enemies, but eventually reconciled. However, the two brothers broke their promise not to fight anymore after Kadil accused Munib of reneging on a political deal after he fielded his son to run for mayor.
Special polls were also held in Pata town where Anton Burahan squared off against his relative Alrasdy Sarapuddin for mayor. Their followers had previously clashed in the town ahead of the May 9 elections. Both Kadil and Burahan won in the elections.
WITH REPORT FROM AL JACINTO