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BOL vote questioned in Cotabato City

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MAYOR CYNTHIA GUIANI-SAYADI — WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/ATTY.CYNTHIA

By Tajallih S. Basman, Correspondent

COTABATO CITY-Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said on Wednesday said she will file an election protest over the local result of the Bangsamaro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite in her city.

The “yes” vote has been reported to have won, signaling the inclusion of the city, with its sizable Christian population, in the new autonomous region that will be formed on the watch of leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

In a phone interview, Ms. Sayadi said her protest will be based on “the discrepancies in the plebiscite results,” which Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesperson James B. Jimenez described as a “clerical error.”

“It’s clear to me this is a manifest error….It will be properly ventilated by the National Board of Canvassers,” Mr. Jimenez said in a teleconference with reporters on Wednesday.

Ms. Sayadi, who campaigned for the non-inclusion of Cotabato City in the future Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), said, “They can say that it is a clerical error but we can also use that as an argument. We will see what the Comelec has to say about it.”

The certificate of canvass submitted indicates that only 39,024 cast their votes in Cotabato City, contrary to the 61,676 counted during the actual canvass at the ORG Compound.

“The total number of voters is only 30,000 plus, that is not the actual figures,” said Ms. Sayadi.

“That is only one of the grounds we will file,” she added.

Ms. Sayadi also noted the reported cases of massive disenfranchisement of voters, harassments in Christian areas, and other forms of intimidation, which she said resulted in the low voter turnout.

Cotabato City has 113,751 registered voters, based on Comelec data, and the turnout was only 54%.

The certificate of canvass transmitted to the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBOC) in Manila shows a total of 61,676 ballots cast, with 36,682 yes votes and 24,994 no.

Meanwhile, in Isabela City, where there are 71,124 registered voters, the unofficial canvass result as of 4:00 p.m. Wednesday indicates 22,441 votes for “no” and 19,032 for “yes.”

Isabela is located within the island province of Basilan, which is part of the existing ARMM. Isabela, however, is under the administrative jurisdiction of the Zamboanga Peninsula region. — with Gillian M. Cortez

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