Saturday, October 17, 2020

Tawi-Tawi's Simunul town has new mayor

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. 

Mayor Benzar Tambut with President Rodrigo Duterte. (Mindanao Examiner)

Mayor Benzar Tambut with Senator Bong Go. (Mindanao Examiner)

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. Tambut and his supporters praised the decision of the court. (Mindanao Examiner)

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