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Comelec junks former Cotabato City mayor’s election protest on technicality

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Cotabato City Mayor-elect Mohammad Bruce Matabalao (center). Photo from Matabalao’s Facebook page

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 August) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) rejected a petition by former Cotabato City mayor lawyer Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi to nullify the results in some voting centers during the May 9 election in that city.

Mohammad Ali Matabalao won with 29,818 votes, unseating Guiani-Sayadi who garnered 22,939 votes.

In throwing out Guiani-Sayadi’s petition, the Comelec Second Division ruled on Monday, August 15, that it has no jurisdiction over it.

It said the case falls under the jurisdiction of the Comelec en banc.

Guiani-Sayadi did file the case before the Comelec en banc but withdrew it and instead filed it with the Second Division, which eventually dismissed her petition for lack of jurisdiction.

In her protest, the former mayor asked the poll body to nullify the results in 36 clustered precincts of barangays Poblacion II, Poblacion VII, Bagua II, Kalangalan Mother and Kalangalan I.

Comelec gave due course to her petition for judicial revision and recount in 17 clustered precincts in barangays Rosary Heights I, XIII, and IX. A “preliminary conference hearing” was set on August 31.

After receiving a copy of the Comelec decision, Matabalao said he had firmly believed that truth and justice will prevail on what really happened during the elections.

Matabalao won the elections along with City Vice Mayor Butch Abu and seven city councilors who ran under the United Bangsamoro Justice Party, the party formed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The poll body also dismissed the election protests lodged against the winning candidates for the city council for failure to pay necessary filing fees and cash deposits. It also cited that some of the petitioners “are not real party-in-interest in an election protest case.”

Guiani-Sayadi allies Japal Guiani III, Danda Juanday and Abdilla Lim joined their party mates in protesting the poll results before the Comelec even if they have won seats in the City Council.

In the same decision, the poll body said it will continue to hear the case filed by city council candidate Reynaldo Ridao, as sole protestant. Ridao ranks 15th in the May 9 polls final count. (Rommel G. Rebollido/MindaNews)

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