Aquino says he only wants honest votes

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BULUAN, Maguindanao—President Benigno Aquino III wants honest votes to be reflected in the midterm polls, regardless of whether administration senatorial candidates would win by landslide in this province.

Quoting the President, acting Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) said Mr. Aquino wanted the “wrongs of the past” corrected, calling to mind the manipulation of the votes in Maguindanao and other parts of the ARMM by the ruling coalition in the 2007 elections.

Pandag Mayor Zajid Mangudadatu had projected an “overwhelming victory” for the Liberal Party (LP) coalition in the May elections.

Mangudadatu, younger brother of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu, said he was confident the track record of the Aquino government would push the LP lineup to victory.

Another Mangudadatu sibling, Buluan Mayor Ibrahim Mangudadatu, said he could pledge an LP victory by 80 percent in his town.

“Mr. Aquino got zero votes in Maguindanao in the 2007 senatorial race but we will reverse it this time,” Governor Mangudadatu said, adding that no impositions will be made.

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, an LP senatorial candidate, said that while he wanted Maguindanao voters to support him after his “manipulated loss” to Miguel Zubiri in 2007, he wanted them to vote honestly.

Risa Hontiveros, who is also part of the LP slate, said she was hoping for clean elections in the ARMM, unlike in the past when ghost voters from ghost towns cast their ballots.

Maguindanao was among the ARMM provinces where former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo gave actor Fernando Poe Jr. zero votes.

The province was formerly ruled by the Ampatuan clan, which was known for its iron-hand policy in maintaining its political grip and for alleged merciless killings.

In November 2009, 58 persons, including 32 journalists, were executed by alleged members of the Ampatuan clan as they were motoring to the provincial capitol in Shariff Aguak town to file the certificate of candidacy of then Buluan Vice Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu.

Mr. Aquino himself urged Maguindanao voters to vote for the LP ticket, saying they would guarantee his programs advocating the “straight path” would succeed.

As the President was speaking, the crowd started to complain about the heat.

The National Power Corp. continues to implement scheduled power outages due to the declining water level at Lake Lanao.

Lake Lanao powers the Agus Power Plants in Lanao, which contribute about 40 percent of Mindanao’s power needs.

“We hope the President do something fast to ease Mindanao’s energy crisis,” a resident who attended the LP rally said. Charlie Señase, Inquirer Mindanao

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