Cotabato City

Comelec division rejects plea to void Cotabato poll results but sets recount hearing

Rommel Rebollido

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Comelec division rejects plea to void Cotabato poll results but sets recount hearing

FIRST-ROUND VICTORY. Cotabato City Mayor Muhammad Ali Matabalao beams as he receives a copy of a Comelec order dismissing a protest case filed against him by the former mayor Cynthia Guiani Sayadi.

Bruce BM Matabalao FB page

The Comelec 2nd Division sets a hearing on petitions for a recount covering 17 of Cotabato City's clustered voting precincts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) 2nd Division dismissed the petition of former Cotabato City mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi to nullify the result of the elections in some voting centers in the city due to a jurisdiction issue.

But the case is far from over. The Comelec 2nd Division has set a preliminary hearing on August 31 on the petitions of Sayadi and an ex-councilor for a recount covering 17 of 36 clustered precincts.

The Cotabato mayoral election results showed Sayadi losing to Mayor Muhammad Ali “Bruce” Matabalao by nearly 7,000 votes.

Matabalao won with 29,818 votes against Sayadi’s 22,939, an outcome the former mayor and lawyer questioned.

The Comelec 2nd Division ruled on Monday, August 15, that it has no jurisdiction over the petition for the annulment of the election results filed by Sayadi.

The division said the plea to void election results was a matter for the Comelec en banc to rule on.

Sayadi first filed the case before the Comelec en banc but withdrew it, and then submitted it to the poll body’s 2nd Division.

Sayadi is contesting the election results in some of Cotabato City’s clustered precincts, alleging that she was cheated and that the mayoral race was characterized by massive fraud.

Aside from Sayadi, a separate petition for a recount was also filed by former councilor Reynaldo Ridao who lost his seat in the local legislature in May.

There were other election protests separately filed by candidates who ran for city council seats under Sayadi’s ticket, but the Comelec dismissed them because they failed to pay filing fees and make the required cash deposits.

The Comelec said some of them “are not real party-in-interest in an election protest case” like councilors Japal Guiani III, Danda Juanday, and Abdilla Lim who won seats in the Cotabato city council.

Mayor Matabalao, for his part, said he was confident that “truth and justice will prevail,” and people would know what happened during the May elections in Cotabato.

Matabalao and his running mate, Vice Mayor Butch Abu, and seven councilors won as candidates of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Cotabato City is the regional seat of the MILF-dominated Bangsamoro region. –

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