‘Flying voters’ tag Mangudadatu ally
COTABATO CITY—A close political ally of Maguindanao Gov. Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu has been accused of facilitating the registration of so-called flying voters in the continuing registration process of the Commission on Elections for voters in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Several persons, who claimed they were among those enticed by Samsodin Dimaukom to register in Datu Saudi town, said they were recently hauled in chartered vehicles and made to register in Datu Saudi, where Dimaukom was said to be running for mayor in next year’s elections.
The alleged flying voters, some of whom were from this city, told reporters that in exchange for listing up as voters in Datu Saudi town, they were given canned goods though they were promised P300 in cash each.
Some said they were promised houses if they transferred residence from here to Datu Saudi.
“We are being used,” said one of the alleged flying voters, requesting anonymity for security reasons. “They are taking advantage of our being poor.”
The flying voter said he and the others who were brought to Datu Saudi town pretended that they were going with the plan because they feared for their lives.
Dimaukom, appointed by Mangudadatu as deputy Maguindanao governor, admitted he had been urging individuals to register for next year’s elections but denied any wrongdoing.
He said his critics might have interpreted this to mean he was involved in fraudulent practices.
Dimaukom said his efforts to have new voters registered were part of his compliance with an order given to him by Mangudadatu. The governor, said Dimaukom, asked him to help residents vote next year.
A top election official in the province, however, said the Comelec can’t act on the alleged flying voters’ narration unless they put it in writing.
Udtog Tago, Maguindanao election supervisor, said if the alleged flying voters had evidence they should sue Dimaukom in court.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes had said the Comelec wanted to purge the entire voters’ list of ARMM to remove illegal registrants and cleanse the list.
Under what Brillantes said was a reformed registration system, the Comelec would catch multiple registrants. The system is being implemented in the entire ARMM, which has gained notoriety for election fraud in the past including delivering zero votes to senatorial candidates of the opposition in the 2007 elections.
Brillantes said efforts to cheat during the registration period won’t work. “Don’t worry, let them do their thing because in the end, they would end up losing,” said Brillantes, addressing himself to so-called cheaters.
Tago said the Comelec’s three-man Election Registration Board would thoroughly review the list of registrants in Maguindanao to ensure there are no double registrants on the list.
Those found to have registered more than once would be punished, according to the country’s election laws, he said. Charlie C. Señase, Inquirer Mindanao