Special elections in Mindanao could decide 12th slot

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE special elections that would be held today in selected areas in the vote-rich Mindanao provinces of Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Shariff Kabunsuan, and the town of Taysan in Batangas, could determine the winner of the 12th and last Senate slot.

In a resolution dated June 14, the Commission on Elections en banc set for today the special elections in 168 precincts in the towns of Taraka, Tamparan, Marantao, Lumbaca-Unayan, Pagayawan and Tubaran, and Marawi City in Lanao del Sur; Akbar and Sumisip in Basilan; Barira and Kabuntalan in Shariff Kabunsuan, and Tandubas in Tawi-Tawi.

With each precinct having a minimum of 200 voters, estimates said there could be at least 33,000 voters in the 168 precincts in Mindanao where the special polls would be held.

The special polls in Batangas would involve six precincts in the town of Taysan where armed men burned a school where the votes in the May 14 elections were being counted.

Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento would oversee the conduct of the special elections in Lanao.

Earlier, reports said that if the controversial certificate of canvass in the province of Maguindanao would be counted, Team Unity senatorial candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri would lead his rival Aquilino Pimentel III of the Genuine Opposition by at least 17,000 votes.

But with an estimated registered voters of 33,000 involved in the special polls in the four Mindanao provinces and in one town in Batangas, the results could deliver the winning votes that would determine who between Zubiri and Pimentel would clinch the 12th Senate slot.

Apparently, when it issued the June 14 resolution, the Comelec intended the special polls to determine only the results of the election with respect to the positions for provincial and municipal levels.

But there were also reports that the poll body may consider the results of the special polls as part of the still uncompleted tally for the senatorial candidates.

Reports also said earlier that policemen-trainees would serve as election inspectors in today’s special elections in Lanao del Sur, Basilan and Shariff Kabunsuan.

National Police Chief Oscar Calderon was quoted in the reports as saying that Comelec requested the deployment of policemen to ensure that the special polls would proceed smoothly.