Cops serve as BEIs in Lanao Sur as scared teachers bail out

Armed soldiers guard balloting, canvassing By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.
Last updated 06:43pm (Mla time) 05/27/2007
BUTIG, Lanao Del Sur — It did not matter if it was held in an old and open public market. Streams of voters still came as the third attempt to hold elections in this remote town finally pushed through on Sunday.

Polls also pushed through in the five barangay (villages) in Pualas and in one village in Lumba Bayabao where special elections failed on Saturday.

The situation in the province was generally peaceful on Sunday, with only two reported cases of gunfire. In both instances the shots came from soldiers who fired warning shots to pacify unruly crowds.

The 42 precincts in this town, two hours away from Marawi City, were clustered in three areas: In an elementary school, in the Butig National High School and the bulk at the Butig Public Market, right across the town hall grounds, where military trucks and two armored vehicles were parked.

The number of soldiers sent to the small town of over 8,000 voters was doubled: 200 army soldiers on board 15 military trucks arrived early Sunday morning.

Three military helicopters were flying over the area.

Polls here did not push through twice, on May 14 and on Saturday, after teachers assigned to work as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) did not show up. They were afraid they might get caught in the intense family feud between political rivals.

Of the 126 teachers assigned to serve as BEIs, only six showed up on Saturday, according to Commission on Elections special action officer Roy Prule Ediza.

“They said their fellow teachers got sick, or went somewhere. We were not able to complete teams of BEIs,” Ediza told the INQUIRER. He tried forming new teams of BEIs, but time on Saturday was not on his side: It was getting late and there had been no power supply into the town in the last few days.

The clashing parties eventually proposed to have policemen serve as BEIs instead, Ediza said, showing text messages from representatives.

So on Sunday, as balloting finally began after lunch, policemen could be seen carrying ballot boxes filled with election paraphernalia. The special elections began late because Ediza had to wait for a copy of the written resolution authorizing the rescheduled polls from the Comelec en banc in Manila.

The 126 policemen came from the Lanao Del Sur Provincial Police and from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Regional Mobile Group. Only a handful of them were women and had experience working as BEIs, Chief Insp. Richmond Tadina, the provincial police operations officer, told the INQUIRER.

Most of the policemen were carrying rifles and wearing combat uniforms when they reported to their respective precincts at 1:15 p.m. Voters had been waiting as early as seven hours before, said 31-year-old voter Alex.

“It is okay to have policemen as BEIs. We are not afraid. We don’t see any problem,” 20-year-old voter Omair also said. It was his first time to vote.

The watchers from rival parties were difficult to deal with. They insisted on accompanying the policemen transporting the ballot boxes, and wanted to get into the rooms, and, in the public market, into the narrow stalls barricaded only by straw ropes and weak wooden posts.

In the public market, a policeman lost his temper when two watchers from just one party wanted to stay in the stall where he was.

“Back off! We are here so the elections could continue!” he shouted.

In Lumba Bayabao, polls also pushed through at the Maribo Elementary Schools, where 1,855 voters were registered, special action officer Fernando Cotom also told the INQUIRER.

Tension was rife for a few minutes when soldiers spotted a man carrying a gun about 2 p.m. The man resisted when he was asked to leave and some people were starting to get unruly so the soldiers fired warning shots.

Polls in Barangay Yaran, Dapao, Notong, Bualan and Bantayan in Pualas also pushed through on Sunday after the Comelec resolved problems in the clustering of precincts. Election materials did not reach these areas on Saturday after gunmen opened fire at the convoy carrying the ballot boxes.

The canvassing of votes for the 10 towns where the Saturday special elections pushed through started late Sunday as thousands of watchers trooped to the canvassing areas in Marawi City at the provincial capitol, the Amai Pak Pak Elementary School, the Marawi National High School and at the People’s Freedom Park.

Traffic on streets leading to these areas was jammed Sunday as cars parked on the narrow roads and watchers gathered in front of the gates, preventing the BEIs from getting in.

The mayhem was enough to delay the verification of the BEIs.

Soldiers were all over key streets, holding check points, stopping cars and verifying documents of motorcycles.

At the Marawi National High School, soldiers had to fire warning shots Sunday morning when tension between watchers of rival political parties in Kapai town turned into a brawl.

It was in Kapai where gunmen opened fire at the town hall on Saturday afternoon, just as the voting was about to end.


As of May 25, 2007 – 12:00 PM
1 BUHAY 807,865
2 BAYAN MUNA 662,743
3 CIBAC 464,720
4 GABRIELA 376,988
5 APEC 364,813
6 ALAGAD 344,442
7 A TEACHER 333,901
8 BUTIL 316,922
9 AGAP 285,661
10 AKBAYAN 276,708
11 ANAKPAWIS 251,322
12 ARC 245,919
13 BATAS 244,499
14 COOP-NATCCO 236,132
15 AN WARAY 200,964
16 FPJPM 178,468
17 ABA-AKO 158,918
18 KABATAAN 153,405
20 VFP 145,803
21 KAKUSA 144,508
22 ABONO 138,426
23 UNI-MAD 137,725
24 BANAT 120,070
25 BANTAY 118,293
26 ABAKADA 117,465
27 1-UTAK 114,576
28 ABS 111,179
29 COCOFED 110,173
30 AGHAM 104,698
31 ANG KASANGGA 93,639
32 AVE 91,285
33 AT 88,882
34 ANAK 88,737
35 AMIN 77,931
36 ANAD 77,657
37 PM 70,895
38 TUCP 70,666
39 DIWA 69,669
40 SANLAKAS 67,341
41 ANC 66,743
42 ABC 55,310
43 YACAP 54,651
44 BIGKIS 52,860
45 PBA 50,186
46 PMAP 45,418
47 BAGO 42,920
48 APOI 42,601
49 BANDILA 42,458
50 AKSA 40,329
51 AKAPIN 39,795
52 AGBIAG! 39,673
53 GRECON 39,428
54 ABANSE! PINAY 38,853
55 AHON 35,322
56 BP 33,284
57 SPI 33,207
58 ASAHAN MO 32,677
59 KALAHI 29,137
60 AMANG 28,955
61 ALIF 28,230
62 AHONBAYAN 26,600
63 BT, 25,192
64 ALMANA 24,809
65 ASAP 24,153
66 ABA ILONGGO 23,773
67 SB 23,684
68 BABAE KA 22,971
69 VENDORS 22,915
70 NELFFI 22,099
71 A SMILE 19,992
72 SUARA 18,510
74 AAWAS 16,718
75 AAPS 16,338
76 PEP 13,633
77 ASSALAM 12,752
78 AG 12,158
79 HAPI 11,575
80 AGING PINOY 11,153
81 APO 10,879
82 BAHANDI 10,132
84 ADD 9,871
85 ABAY PARAK 9,481
86 ATS 9,232
87 ADD-TRIBAL 8,839
89 AA-KASOSYO 5,537
90 LYPAD 5,191
91 UMDJ 5,036
92 KASAPI 3,832
93 SM 3,554

Senators/Partylist May 26, 2007 5:52 pm Batch 36

1 Legarda, Loren 14,088,197
2 Escudero, Chiz 13,838,440
3 Lacson, Ping 11,951,942
4 Villar, Manuel 11,609,985
5 Aquino, Noynoy* 11,041,088
6 Pangilinan, Kiko* 11,035,941
7 Angara, Edgardo 9,648,879 8 Cayetano, Alan Peter** 8,970,598
9 Honasan, Gringo 8,966,150
10 Arroyo, Joker 8,928,756
11 Trillanes, Antonio 8,657,146
12 Pimentel, Koko 8,398,589
13 Zubiri, Juan Miguel 8,167,850
14 Recto, Ralph 7,947,766
15 Defensor, Mike 7,492,891
16 Pichay, Prospero 7,378,468
17 Roco, Sonia 6,543,428
18 Montano, Cesar 5,974,219
19 Osmena, John 5,696,910
20 Sotto, Tito 5,584,870
21 Magsaysay, Vic 4,884,820
22 Coseteng, Nikki 4,111,747
23 Oreta, Tessie 3,221,026
24 Singson, Chavit 3,192,851
25 Gomez, Richard 2,153,537
26 Kiram, Jamalul 1,792,619
27 Chavez, Melchor 697,171
28 Paredes, Zosimo 672,665
29 Bautista, Martin 656,970
30 Cayetano, Joselito*** 439,349
31 Sison, Adrian 396,528
32 Lozano, Oliver 345,730
33 Estrella, Antonio 321,468
34 Wood, Victor 299,059
35 Orpilla, Ed 200,486
36 Enciso, Ruben 168,285
37 Cantal, Felix 154,616
BUHAY 510,305
BAYAN MUNA 444,392
CIBAC 326,559
APEC 309,655
GABRIELA 307,001
A TEACHER 241,393
AKBAYAN 207,475
ARC 155,730
AMIN 155,071
ALAGAD 148,831
BATAS 145,772
AGAP 145,585
BUTIL 143,188
AN WARAY 134,774
ABONO 132,096
ABA-AKO 118,950
ANAD 114,230
ABS 113,896
FPJPM 108,674
KAKUSA 105,961
VFP 99,416
COCOFED 87,273
BANAT 87,060
TUCP 79,469
AT 78,375
1-UTAK 78,171
UNI-MAD 76,352
ABAKADA 75,787 Precints Reported:
ANG KASANGGA 74,057 129,058 of 224,748
ANAK 72,576
AGHAM 70,789 Percentage Reported
DIWA 69,541 57.42%
ALIF 62,513
BANTAY 59,460
KALAHI 57,565
AVE 56,361
SUARA 52,015
PM 49,328
UMDJ 48,936
YACAP 48,249
APOI 47,731
AKAPIN 43,751
ABC 42,510
GRECON 40,482
AKSA 34,128
ASSALAM 34,114
NELFFI 32,754
AGBIAG! 31,885
ASAHAN MO 31,568
PMAP 31,187
BANDILA 29,497
A SMILE 29,021
SPI 28,928
AHON 28,380
ADD 26,372
BAGO 25,883
PBA 25,866 Precints Reported:
ANC 25,541 129,058 of 224,748
HAPI 24,688
BAHANDI 24,494 Percentage Reported
AMANG 23,660 57.42%
BIGKIS 23,306
PEP 23,283
BABAE KA 21,694
BTM 21,372
ASAP 21,136
SB 20,904
BP 20,336
APO 19,138
AAPS 18,626
LYPAD 18,407
VENDORS 17,524
ALMANA 14,583
AG 12,295
AAWAS 10,371
KASAPI 9,165
SM 8,967
ATS 7,270

Poll failure in 5 Lanao villages

By Edson C. Tandoc Jr.
Last updated 05:46pm (Mla time) 05/26/2007
MARAWI CITY — Failure of elections was again declared in at least five
barangay or villages in Lanao Del Sur after gunmen opened fire on a
convoy on its way to deliver ballot boxes in remote schools in Pualas.

In other areas where special elections were held Saturday, firefights
and confrontations also erupted despite the deployment of more than
5,000 soldiers in at least 13 towns.

There are also initial reports the special elections also failed in the
municipality of Butig, where problems in the clustering of precincts
also triggered tension between rival political parties.

“There are apparently some groups who want the elections to be
postponed again,” Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento told the Philippine Daily Inquirer Saturday morning as reports came in one by one.

Bullets from what appeared to be M16 rifles rained on a military truck
escorting election workers on their way to deliver ballot boxes and
election paraphernalia for five barangays in Pualas, which is more than an
hour away from Marawi City, where Comelec set up a monitoring center.

The election materials failed to reach the Yaran Elementary School,
where precincts for barangays Yaran, Dapao, Notong, Bualan and Bantayan
are located.

Comelec Task Force Lanao member Teopisto Elnas, who trooped to Pualas
after receiving a distress call from the special action officer assigned
there, said they had to declare a failure of elections in the five

“I will propose that elections in these barangays be held tomorrow
(Sunday) since all election workers and materials are already here,” he
said after meeting with election workers and local candidates at the
Pualas National High School.

This second postponement of elections affected close to 2,000 voters in
nine precincts.

He said local candidates had aired problems over the clustering of
precincts, of residents having to vote in another barangay.

The candidates explained their
supporters could not vote in another barangay because of intense
rivalry among villages.

This was also one of the reasons elections in Pualas did not push
through on May 14. Emerging from the meeting Saturday, while two military
trucks loaded with soldiers and two armored vehicle waited outside,
Elnas said the candidates had already agreed on a new clustering of

But voting pushed through in the 18 remaining barangay in Pualas, most
of which were clustered at the Pualas Elementary School.

Poll watcher Adima Saripadama told the Inquirer, parent company of that balloting began at 8 a.m. without any untoward
incident. Unlike in the metropolis, there were also no problems of voters who could not find their names on the voters’ list.

In the town of Kapai, bursts of gunfire also rang out Saturday

In phone calls asking for help from the monitoring center in Marawi
City, where Sarmiento stayed all day, the special action officer could be
heard crying, as gunshots rang out in the background.

“It was very peaceful in the morning. But in the afternoon, we
heard successive gunshots,” lawyer Aleli Ramirez, assigned to Kapai, told
the Inquirer.

There are no reports of any violence yet from these towns, which also
held special elections: Lumbatan, Marogong, Kapatagan, Sultan
Dumalondong, Lumbayanague, Madalum, Lumba Bayabao, Masiu, Binidayan and Bayang.

In an attempt to ensure a peaceful exercise, the Armed Forces of the
Philippines took charge of the security arrangements, leaving policemen
to just perform their normal functions.

Sarmiento explained he received reports of police officers being
partisan to some local candidates.

Elections failed in the 13 towns on May 14 after some members of the
Board of Election Inspectors and some Election Officers refused to report
for work out of fear.

Party-list voters surge in Zambo Sur, Tawi-Tawi

By Christian V. Esguerra
Last updated 01:24am (Mla time) 05/26/2007
MANILA, Philippines—Was it another case of election fraud, or were the voters in two Mindanao provinces suddenly just too keen on party-list groups?

Zamboanga del Sur yielded a voter turnout of 322,807 for party-list groups alone, representing a 219-percent increase from the party-list elections just three years ago, according to the Task Force Poll Watch of the Genuine Opposition and five militant party-list groups.

Not to be outdone, Tawi-Tawi registered an 89-percent voter turnout for party-list groups, drawing even more suspicion from the task force. This is because, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño pointed out yesterday, the national average for the increase in total party-list votes this year was only 30 percent.

“So it’s either the people in these two provinces raised their political awareness on party-list groups all of a sudden, or there was massive vote manipulation,” Casino told the Inquirer at the task force’s headquarters in Quezon City.

He said the second possibility seemed much more convincing, considering the huge number of additional votes that party-list groups identified with Malacañang supposedly enjoyed because of the spike in voter turnout.


The task force showed the Inquirer how it traced alleged “vote-padding” in favor of groups like Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (Alif) in Zamboanga del Sur.

Alif, whose incumbent representative is Acmad Tomawis, enjoyed at least 22,011 additional votes in 15 of 28 municipalities in the province, according to a consolidated report by the task force.

The alleged increase was biggest at 2,000 in the town of Margosatubig and also at Pitogo. In the certificate of votes (CoV), Alif got only 114 in Margosatubig, but the result was jacked up to 2,114 in the summary of votes (SoV), the report said.

In Pitogo, Alif supposedly registered only 108 votes in the CoV, but had 2,108 in the SoV.

A closer look at the task force’s report showed that numerals were simply added to the CoV count to pad the votes in the SoV. Alif’s nine votes in Simimot, for instance, rose to 1,090 in the SoV. In Josefina town, its four votes went up to 641.


The task force said the questionable high voter turnout in Tawi-Tawi also appeared to favor another party-list group believed to be fronting for Malacañang.

The Youth Against Corruption and Poverty (Yacap) was tops in the province with 21,966 votes, beating rival party-list groups based in Mindanao.

“It’s like Chavit Singson being the top vote-getter in Maguindanao,” Casiño said, referring to the administration senatorial candidate whose political bailiwick is Ilocos Sur.

Casiño said the results of the party-list elections in Zamboanga del Sur and Tawi-Tawi reminded him of a meeting with a known “political operator” about three weeks before the May 14 elections.

He said that during the meeting at a five-star hotel in Makati, the operator told him that Mindanao would be “the primary source of votes for party-list groups.”

The Inquirer earlier reported that the operator—a former critic of President Macapagal-Arroyo—was involved in the sale of party-list nominations. He was supposedly working with another political operator, a namesake of a former House Speaker identified with Malacañang’s Office of External Affairs.

Casiño said the second operator was also present during the Makati hotel meeting. He recalled seeing the man speaking with a party-list representative then seeking accreditation from the Commission on Elections.

“The massive vote-padding currently happening in Mindanao confirms the statement of the political operator,” the lawmaker said.

Casiño said the two men he met in Makati were among many “syndicates” manipulating the results of the party-list elections for money. He said these groups included known warlords and powerful political clans in Mindanao.


Before the elections, he said, syndicates were offering to fix the results with a rate of P5 for every voter that a party-list group wanted added to its votes. He said the rate went as high as P25 per voter after the elections.

“Political operators who are neat with their ‘work’ change the results, not only in the CoV and SOV, but also in the election returns,” Casiño said.

He described as “crude” and “blatant” the alleged “vote-padding” in Zamboanga del Sur and Taw-Tawi, noting that political operators bothered to change only the figures in the CoV and SoV.

Casiño said the task force would question the results from the two provinces once these reach the National Board of Canvassers at the Philippine International Convention Center.

GO presents ‘proof’ of cheating in South

By Norman Bordadora
Last updated 01:19am (Mla time) 05/26/2007
The affidavits—secured by the GO-Party-List Task Force Poll Watch through interviews conducted by members of the Suara Bangsamoro early this week—comprise the first documentary evidence of fraud in Maguindanao and will be used by the task force to seek the voiding of the elections there, which resulted in a 12-0 sweep of the administration’s Team Unity.

In his affidavit, a 51-year-old man said he and his fellow BEI members were taken from the treasurer’s office on May 14 to a banana patch where they filled out ballots while armed men stood guard.

He said they were taken to the National Irrigation Administration office in Shariff Aguak when night fell on Election Day and kept on “standby” the entire May 15 before the counting of votes started much later, on the evening of May 16.

The BEI member asked that his name and that of his town be withheld until he deems it safe to face the Commission on Elections.

In his own affidavit, BEI poll clerk Faisal Kalantungan said 38 ballot boxes and 190 election returns (ERs) had yet to be picked up from the Pagalungan municipal council 10 days after Election Day and despite the provincial canvass having already taken place.

The GO-Party-List Task Force Poll Watch believes that Maguindanao, with its estimated 300,000 registered voters, can make or break the chances of senatorial candidates, particularly those locked in the close battle for the last positions in the Top 12.


This was what the BEI member said in his affidavit, which he signed on May 24: “On May 14, I took five ballot boxes from the treasury office of [our] municipal hall. We boarded a lawin (public utility vehicle) which we thought would take us to our precinct. We were baffled because our vehicle went in a different direction.

“When we came upon [a bridge], we were made to board a pump boat to a place where there were many banana patches. It was there that we alighted. When we went down, armed men took all our cell phones and we were given sample ballots.

“[Those sample ballots] contained the names they wanted us to write on the ballots.”

The BEI member said that even the armed men filled out the ballots: “They opened the ballot boxes, got the ballots and they themselves wrote. They wrote the names of the Team Unity candidates and even those of local candidates.”

He said they were later transferred from the banana patch to a wooded area, and completed their task at 3 p.m.

He added: “We were transferred to the back [of a municipal hall]. We waited for nightfall and when it was already dark, we were taken to the National Irrigation Administration office in Shariff Aguak.

“On May 15, 2007, we were on standby the whole day.”

On May 16, he said, the counting began at 7 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m.

In his own sworn statement also signed on May 24, Kalantungan, 34, a poll clerk and BEI member of Pagalungan town, said some 38 ballot boxes and 190 ERs remained unclaimed by the Comelec from the Sangguniang Bayan 10 days after the elections.

He also said he was already finding it hard watching over the election documents covering the results of the balloting in his municipality.

“Until now, May 24, 2007, the authorized Comelec officer has yet to receive the [ERs]. These have been unclaimed since May 15, 2007,” Kalantungan said.

“Now that it has been almost 10 days that they have yet to get the ERs, I’m already finding what’s happening difficult,” he said.

The provincial canvass apparently went on despite the absence of the 38 ballot boxes and 190 ERs from Pagalungan.

“It would seem that the ERs they counted at the provincial canvass were manufactured ERs,” observed Rep. Teodoro Casiño of the party-list group Bayan Muna. “Now, the operators are finding it difficult to remove the valid ERs from Pagalungan town because the BEIs like Faisal are standing guard over them.”


Casiño said the task force would use the affidavits to ask the Comelec “to void the elections in Maguindanao and to file administrative and criminal charges against election officials.”

Suara Bangsamoro, a party-list group allied with Bayan Muna, conducted the fact-finding mission in Maguindanao.

Zaynab Ampatuan, head of the fact-finding team and Suara Bangsamoro first nominee, told the Inquirer that they conducted the interviews on Thursday but spent a week looking for people willing to submit sworn statements.

Ampatuan said the 190 uncanvassed ERs contained all the votes in eight of 12 barangays in Pagalungan.

Rep. Satur Ocampo, also of Bayan Muna, said it was “highly irregular that the Provincial Board of Canvassers had already finished canvassing ‘votes’ in Maguindanao while the ERs remain in the custody of poll officers at the municipal level.”

“This is a clear case of election sabotage, a criminal and election offense,” he said in a statement.

According to Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, “it is now clear to the people what kind of command votes and election machinery Malacañang had been bragging about, the ones that delivered a 12-0 sweep by [TU] in Maguindanao.”

“It is an armed election machinery engaged in commando-type operations to sabotage the polls,” Mariano said, referring to the armed men who supposedly took the BEIs and stood guard over them while they filled out ballots.

With a report from TJ Burgonio

What’s Palparan doing in Lanao?

By Norman Bordadora
Last updated 02:39am (Mla time) 05/26/2007

MANILA, Philippines–“What the hell is Palparan doing in Lanao?” said Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño yesterday as he denounced the Commission on Elections for deputizing the Armed Forces in tomorrow’s special elections in 13 towns in Lanao del Sur.


Casiño referred to retired General Jovito Palparan, whose name has been linked to human rights violations, to stress their distrust over the heavy military presence in areas where rampant electoral fraud is suspected.


“The Armed Forces is heavily biased against the political opposition and progressive partylists. They cannot be trusted to ensure clean and credible elections in Lanao del Sur or anywhere else,” said House Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna president, Rep. Satur C. Ocampo, who was interviewed by the Inquirer together with Casiño and other militant leaders at their party-list headquarters in Quezon City.


Casiño and Ocampo argued that the military had “zero credibility” as election guardians and should not be used in the Mindanao special polls.


Magic formula


“The Comelec should seriously reconsider its decision and instead deputize the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and other such groups, added Bayan Muna’s general counsel and third nominee Neri Javier Colmenares.


“This is the administration’s magic formula for negating the protest vote—to massively cheat in Lanao del Sur, to terrorize residents there into voting 12-0 for Team Unity and to vote for Bantay,” Colmenares charged.


Bayan Muna leaders said the Armed Forces was far from being a neutral guardian of elections.


“Lest we forget, the AFP has vigorously spoken against the candidacy of (Genuine Opposition candidate) Ltsg. Antonio Trillanes and has actively campaigned against our party-list organizations,” Ocampo said.


Numerous acts of fraud and harassment have been committed by soldiers in the May 14 polls, he pointed out.


Palparan, meanwhile, is the nominee of the party-list group Bantay, which is lagging behind despite massive military support,” said Ocampo.


Ocampo said that in the 2004 elections, the military played “a similar lead role as facilitator of massive cheating” as indicated in the “Hello Garci” (recordings of alleged conversations detailing alleged election fraud) and the testimony of retired general Francisco Gudani.


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