The campaign poster of Veterinarian Dr. Zulficar Panda of Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao province. (Photo lifted from Dr. Zulficar Panda’s Facebook Page)

COTABATO CITY – A first-time mayoral aspirant of the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) was proclaimed winner by the Commission on Elections with only 22 votes over his closest rival in the Maguindanao town of Sultan Mastura.

Veterinarian Zulficar “Doc Bong” Panda was announced winner by the municipal board of canvassers at the town’s Sangguniang Bayan session hall at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Panda obtained 5,817 votes over mayoral candidate Armando Talib Mastura Jr.'s 5,795 votes.

Panda's running mate, vice mayoral aspirant Sweary Darping, lost to Andy Amir of PDP-Laban who was also proclaimed with 5,104 votes. 

Four of Panda’s party members also made it to the municipal council.

Panda resigned from the Cotabato City Office of Veterinary Services last year to try his hand in politics.

“It’s God’s will, thank you for all your support,” he declared after emerging from the SB session hall as his supporters chanted his name.

According to the 2020 census, Sultan Mastura has a population of 25,331 people living in 13 barangays. (PNA)