Maguindanao

After arrest for double murder, Maguindanao town mayor loses post to rival

Rommel Rebollido
After arrest for double murder, Maguindanao town mayor loses post to rival

NEW MAYOR. Mohajeran Odjie Balayman takes his oath as mayor of Pandag town before Maguindanao Governor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu on October 18, 2022.

Maguindanao provincial government

(1st UPDATE) Mohajeran Odjie Balayman takes his oath as mayor of Pandag town, replacing former Maguindanao 2nd District representative Toto Mangudadatu's brother Khaddafe

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – A town mayor from Maguindanao province recently arrested in Davao City due to a double murder case was replaced by his May election rival based on a court order.

Khadafeh “Toy” Mangudadatu had been ordered to vacate his post as mayor of Pandag on Friday, October 14, by Regional Trial Court Branch 15 Judge Annabelle Piang.

Mangudadatu’s election opponent, Mohajeran Odjie Balayman, took his oath of office as mayor before Maguindanao Governor Mariam Sangki-Mangudadatu on Tuesday, October 18.

Maguindanao 2nd District Representative Mohammad Tong Paglas and other provincial officials came to witness the oath taking.

Piang declared Balayman as the elected mayor of Pandag after the court found out that he had 400 votes more than what Khadafeh garnered in the May polls.

Balayman earlier contested the election results and sought a recount, alleging that he was cheated.

A tabulation of votes from 23 clustered precincts in the town showed that Balayman had 2,470 votes while Khaddafe had 2,070.

The 44-year-old Khadafeh, a brother of former Maguindanao 2nd District representative Esmael “Toto” Mangudadatu, has yet to issue a statement.

Khadafeh was arrested at the Royal Mandaya Hotel in Davao City on September 10 in connection with the murder of couple Abdulah Kanapia Ligawan and Lala Ligawan in Purok 6, Barangay Sinakulay, President Quirino town in Sultan Kudarat province on October 7, 2010. 

After being briefly confined in a hospital, he was brought to a prison facility in General Santos City upon orders from a court in Tacurong City.

Police are looking for Khaddafe’s three co-accused: his brother Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu, Mamayang Amino, and Tunggal Usop.

Balayman, meanwhile, said he would form a council of elders to help him ensure good governance and resolve land conflicts in Pandag.

Pandag is one of the two dozen towns that will be under the new province of Maguindanao del Sur, which will be led by Governor Mangudadatu. The other new province, based on a law ratified via a plebiscite last September, is Maguindanao del Norte.

Comelec issues injunction

A day later, on October 19, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 1st Division issued an injunction against a court order for a recount of votes in connection with an election protest against Khadafeh.

The injunction, signed by Comelec commissioners Socorro Inting, Aimee Ferolina, and Rey Bulay, sought to stop a judge and all persons under her supervision “to cease and desist” from causing a recount, and ordering Khadafeh to step down as mayor of Pandag town.

The October 19 Comelec order sought to stop the court from proceeding with the petition filed by Balayman who contested the results of the May 9 local elections in Pandag.

A copy of the injunction order, dated October 19, was first posted on social media by Esmael, a day after Balayman took his oath of office as Pandag mayor. Copies of the injunction were also sent to Judge Piang and various offices in Pandag.

Balayman brushed aside the Comelec order, calling it “bahaw” (stale). He said the matter was “moot and academic,” because it was about a June 2 court order for a recount issued after Khadafeh defaulted.

Khadafeh’s lawyers then brought the matter to the Comelec which subsequently issued a 60-day temporary restraining order.

Balayman’s lawyer Cyrus Torreña said the assumption of Balayman as mayor of Pandag this week was legal and went through a legal process.

He said the court proceeded with the recount after failing to get a response or appeal from the camp of Mangudadatu on Balayman’s petition.

Torreña said the TRO lapsed and Khadafeh failed to get an injunction on time, prompting the court to proceed with the recount.

Balayman maintained that the October 14 court order against Khadafeh “is final and executory,” and has not been overturned by the Comelec 1st Division’s October 19 order.

He pointed out that the court also issued a writ of execution.

Balayman challenged the Mangudadatus and their lawyers to secure a certificate of recognition from the government in favor of Khadafeh. – Rappler.com

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