3 ex-Sulu poll canvassers, 2 officials charged with vote padding in 2001 case
Three election canvassers, together with two other people from Sulu, have been charged with vote padding by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
The Comelec identified the accused as Habib Ibrahim Ahmad, Hadja Lily Jalambo, and Eyang Tomoay, the chair, vice chair, and member, respectively, of the Municipal Board of Canvassers in Parang municipality, Sulu province.
Two others, identified as Rakag Maha, the municipal accountant of Parang; and Nestor Lozano, an employee of the Sulu Treasurer’s Office, were accused of having conspired with the alleged manipulation of the results.
“The information has been filed with the Regional Trial Court of Sulu,” said Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon.
According to the information filed in court by the Comelec, the five allegedly worked together to “tamper with, and increase the votes received by candidate Tupay Loong for the position of member of House of Representatives for the first legislative district of the province of Sulu” at the municipal level during the 2001 national elections.
The information alleged that Maha and Lozano filled up tampered Statement of Votes Per Precinct (SVOPs) with increased votes for Loong, while the members of the board of canvassers prepared a Certificate of Canvass based on the tampered SVOPs.
Investigation showed that the tampered SVOPs, when compared to the Election Returns, had increased votes for Loong “from as low as 20 to as high as 100 votes per SVOP, totaling 1,411 votes.”
The five have been charged with violation of section 27(b) of Republic Act 6646, or the Electoral Reforms Law of 1987. If found guilty, they could be imprisoned for one to five years under the Omnibus Election Code.
But Sulu (First District) Rep. Habib Tupay Loong described the case as “insane.”
Vidzfar Julie, the provincial election officer of Sulu, said the case was filed in 2001 by now Mayor Hussin Amin, who was then a candidate for a congressional seat.
“Loong didn’t win in the said election in 2001, but Amin still filed the case and it was on June 10, 2015 that the Comelec made a resolution and filed criminal charges,” Julie said.
All the respondents are “already very old” and have retired from government service, according to Julie.
Amin, on the other had, said he was surprised and overwhelmed. “This case was filed 14 years ago…I really wonder why it was revived when I am no longer interested in pursuing the case,” Amin told the Inquirer by phone.
“I am no longer interested in this case. Besides, most of the five are either very old or dead already,” Amin added.
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