Tawi-tawi’s Simunul town has new mayor

The Mindanao Examiner Regional Newspaper - - First Page -

THE SOUTHERN Philippine town of Simunul in Tawi-tawi has a new mayor - Benzar Tambut after court declared him winner in the 2019 general elections following an electoral protest he filed against Mayor Wasilah Abdurahman.

Judge Grace Tillah, of the Regional Trial Court

Branch 26 in Tawi-tawi, also ordered Abdurahman to vacate her post.

In challengin­g Abdurahman, Tambut claimed massive fraud, anomalies and other irregulari­ties in the elections and the National Bureau of Investigat­ion (NBI) was tapped to conduct technical examinatio­n of election documents, including official ballots which yielded to the discovery of the following – deceased persons were able to cast their votes, illiterate voters were able to sign their names in the ballots legibly and there were inconsiste­nt thumb marks in the Book of Voters, registrati­on records and posting of the list of voters.

According to the court’s decision, Tillah invalidate­d over 5,000 votes of Abdurahman due to massive fraud. The Court also took reliance on the findings of the NBI during the examinatio­n of pertinent election documents.

The technical examinatio­n is one legal process allowed by law to protect the sanctity of ballots and mandate of the electorate. In this process, the NBI takes charge of the examinatio­n of documents being the only agency possessing expertise on the matter.

In her six-page decision, Tillah invalidate­d Abdurahman’s proclamati­on on the ground of “massive fraud, anomalies and other irregulari­ties” in 23 clustered precincts.

“The proclamati­on of protestee Wasilah Abdurahman is hereby held invalid, annulled and set aside on the ground of massive fraud, anomalies and other electoral irregulari­ties in the 23 clustered precincts. Protestant Benzar Tambut is hereby declared as the legally and duly elected mayor in the municipali­ty of Simunul being the winning candidate with the highest number of plurality of valid votes cast,” Tillah said.

“Protestee Wasilah Abdurahman is hereby ordered to vacate her position and to cease and desist from further dischargin­g the duties and functions officially vested in the office of the municipal mayor of Simunul which are now conferred in favor of protestant Benzar Tambut, who is hereby ordered to act, perform and discharge the duties and responsibi­lities and all incidents pertaining thereto,” she added.

Municipal authoritie­s were also ordered to enforce and implement and assist in the implementa­tion of the court’s order. Local residents and Tambut’s supporters praised the court’s decision.

(Mindanao Examiner)

Mayor Benzar Tambut with Senator Bong Go.

Mayor Benzar Tambut with Senator Bong Go.

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