House probe into alleged irregularities in 2023 BSKE pushed

By Zaldy De Layola

December 5, 2023, 3:22 pm

<p>File photo</p>

File photo

MANILA – Deputy Minority Leader and Basilan Lone District Rep. Mujiv Hataman on Tuesday urged the House of Representatives to look into allegations of fraud, anomalies and irregularities in the recent Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).

“Mahirap dedmahin ang napakaraming alegasyon ng irregularidad, pandaraya at pananakot noong nakaraang barangay elections. Dito lamang sa Basilan, madaming insidente ang naiulat sa social media na hindi naa-address ng mga kinauukulan (It's hard to ignore various allegations of irregularities, cheating and harassments in the past barangay elections. Here alone in Basilan, there are reported incidents in the social media that remain unaddressed by the agencies concerned),” Hataman said.

Hataman, former governor of the now-defunct Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, said there have always been allegations of irregularities not only during the BSKE on Oct. 30.

“Perhaps, there's a need to revisit the laws because it seems that no one has been charged or imprisoned for the commission of these election violations,” he added.

On Monday, Hataman filed House Resolution (HR) No. 1497, calling for a congressional inquiry into alleged instances of fraud, anomalies and other election irregularities that took place in Basilan and in many parts of the country.

The resolution cited reports that election officers of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and members of security forces were even the ones involved in anomalies and illegal activities during the BSKE.

He said in the town of Maluso in Basilan, all members of the electoral board in all clustered precincts in Barangay Samal Village, allegedly attempted to transfer the location of the polling place at 7:30 a.m. from the Comelec-designated area to another place without the authority from the Comelec en banc, the sole authority who has the power to cluster precincts and designated polling center.

“If such an illegal and criminal act was not prevented, the voters would surely be displaced and would not be able to vote, thus resulting in a failure of election,” he said in the resolution.

Another instance happened in Barangay Bubuan in the town of Tabuan Lasa where the voting stopped before noon because the voters had fled the polling place due to the alleged presence of armed men surrounding the polling place inside an elementary school.

In Barangay Landugan in Lantawan, several masked men wielding high-powered firearms allegedly entered the polling place, snatched ballot boxes and ballots, and returned the same later in the day, all filled out.

The resolution said these allegations of irregularities and anomalies did not only happen in Basilan, but in other places in Mindanao.

“In another area in Mindanao, a video was taken where an army officer was seen appearing to be in the act of interfering with the tasks of the Electoral Board by calling them one by one and asking them to do certain acts that are already beyond such officer’s mandate or jurisdiction,” the resolution said.

“In another province in Mindanao, a lawyer was prevented from performing his or her job because several men, presumably from the opposing party, prevented him or her from passing through and going to the polling place.”

The prevalence of these alleged instances of fraud, anomalies and election irregularities is very alarming as it will cast doubt on the integrity of the election and endanger the lives of the electorate, the resolution said.

“With the nearing 2025 national and local elections, as well as the next 2025 barangay elections just around the corner, there is a need to investigate these allegations of electoral malpractices to prevent their recurrence by crafting new legislation, or amending and strengthening existing ones, as may be necessary,” it added. (PNA)