Ballot Box Found Floating in Maguindanao Swamp

According to a report by ABS-CBN News, in the village of Sambulawan in Datu Salibo town, a fisherman named Moadz Mindao has discovered a ballot box that was seen floating in a swamp in Maguindanao on June 13.

“I was surprised to see the black part, then its white section. I thought it was a crocodile and then I saw the words ‘Commission on Elections, Republic of the Philippines’ written on it,” Mindao shares.

When reports of the ballot box arose, the defeated candidate for the position of mayor Sam Esmael was urged to post about it on his personal Facebook. He made claims on his Facebook account regarding the box which appears to still have filled out ballots from midterm elections from May 2019.

“This contains the public’s votes which the COMELEC submerged [into the water] to cheat and make mayoralty candidate Solaiman Sandigan, his vice mayor, and councilors win [in the elections],” Esmael argued.

Esmael has also identified a Mary Ann Marohombsar as the certain COMELEC officer who was assigned to Datu Salibo. He asked that the COMELEC should look further into this and asked for help from President Rodrigo Duterte for further investigation about the alleged election fraud.

The ballot box is confirmed to have been used for this year’s election and apparently, there are 9,504 registered voters in the town of Datu Salibo alone. Last May 13, there were nearly 5,000 people from the town that voted, as reported by ABS-CBN News.

The elected mayor, Solaiman Sandigan won at 2,729 votes whereas outgoing mayor Norodin Salas garnered a number of 1,427 votes. In the report, it was mentioned that there were evidently a number of 1,778 registered voters in Barangay Sambulawan where the ballot box was found.

On June 17, The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) denied accusations of electoral fraud occurred in the town in Maguindanao during the election.

“Contrary to allegations made by Esmael and in the absence of any proof of fraud, Datu Salibo election officer Mary Ann Marohombsar maintains the conduct of the May 13 polls in her jurisdiction was fraud-free,” as reported by the Philippine Star from a statement from the COMELEC.

“Actions are now being taken to set the facts straight and hold to account those who are responsible,” the COMELEC added.

The COMELEC has reportedly confirmed that they will be conducting a formal investigation regarding the matter.

What do you think of this situation?