Cotabato City mayoralty race: MILF-backed bet leads in partial, unofficial result

Published May 10, 2022, 3:49 PM

by Keith Bacongco

DAVAO CITY — The United Bangsamoro Justice Party’s mayoralty candidate in Cotabato City was leading based on the partial and unofficial results in the hotly-contested race where around 500 police personnel have been carrying out election duties for obvious reasons.

As of 1:02 p.m. on Tuesday (May 10), UBJP’s Bruce Matabalao who is also backed by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, had garnered 28,732 votes while his rival, incumbent Cotabato City mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi, had received 22,058 votes from the 74.86 percent of election returns.

The rivalry here was so intense, the police personnel also served as the electoral board members.

Two days before the election, on May 7, just when the Commission on Election regional office was about to administer the final testing and sealing of the vote-counting machines, tensions erupted outside the Comelec between the supporters of both parties.

As a result, the final testing and sealing of the VCMs was cancelled.

On May 9, the voting was delayed in many voting centers of the city as police tightened security measures due to tensions among supporters of the mayoralty bets.

Matabalao, a journalist-turned-politician, was former city councilor before challenging re-electionist Guiani-Sayadi.

The intense rivalry between these two parties begun since the campaign for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which eventually paved the way for the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Sayadi had campaigned hard to keep Cotabato City out of the BARMM. However, “Yes” vote prevailed following the plebiscite on January 22, 2019.

The ratification of the BOL also signaled expansion of the autonomous region and that also meant the inclusion of Cotabato City into the BARMM.

Sayadi questioned the outcome of the plebiscite, which paved the way for more tension among supporters in the city.

For the MILF, Cotabato City is the ‘crown jewel’ of the Bangsamoro region.

 
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