The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday denied allegations made by a losing mayoral candidate from Maguindanao that it committed fraud in the recent mid-term elections.
Sam Zailon Esmael, who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in the town of Datu Salibo, Maguindanao, posted in his Facebook page on 14 June a photo of a ballot box allegedly found at the back of the municipal building indicating it as proof of fraud in the conduct of the 13 May 2019 elections.
According to Esmael, the said ballot box was allegedly found abandoned and submerged by a passerby who claimed to have been fishing in the flood waters.
Comelec said Ali A. Mamoribid, the municipal treasurer of Datu Salibo, asserts the said ballot box had been stolen from the municipal office by still unidentified persons.
“As mandated by law, custody of ballot boxes after election day is with the city or municipal treasurer of the locality,” Comelec said in an issued statement.
Contrary to allegations made by Esmael and in the absence of any proof of fraud, Datu Salibo Election Officer Mary Ann Marohombsar maintains that the conduct of the 13 May polls in her jurisdiction was fraud-free.
Mamoribid is presently in close coordination with Marohombsar and the poll body in the province of Maguindanao to help in the investigation of the ballot box being conducted by the Philippine National Police.
Datu Salibo has 9,504 registered voters. Esmael garnered a total of 273 votes out of the estimated 5,000 total votes cast.
Comelec said actions are now being taken to set the facts straight and hold to account those who are responsible.