ZAMBOANGA CITY—Officials of three island villages in this city denied that petitions for inclusion in the plebiscite for the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law that were submitted to the Commission of Elections were signed by them.
According to city councilor Jihan Edding, records from the Comelec showed the villages of Busay, Landang Gua and Tumalutab filed the petitions on November 9, but the city council questioned the validity and legality of the documents attached to them.
Attorney Cesar Jimenez, chairperson of the committee on ordinances and resolutions, invited all the elected officials of the villages to a committee level hearing Monday.
Carsoma Abunawas, the Tumalutab village chairperson, and all his barangay kagawad denied they signed a barangay resolution asking the Comelec to include their village in the Bangsamoro plebiscite.
Abunawas said two residents of their village approached him and a few barangay kagawad, asking them to sign the prepared barangay resolution.
Abunawas said they politely declined to sign, citing their opposition to be included in the expanded Bangsamoro territory.
Elected officials of Barangay Busay also did not sign nor submit a barangay resolution, but they were surprised when the committee presented a copy of their supposed barangay resolution with their signatures affixed above their names.
The village officials reiterated during the committee hearing they did not sign such resolution and the signatures affixed to the resolution were forged.
Jimenez also found out during the hearing that their village treasurer, identified as Suwaib Lali, was behind the alleged falsification of the barangay resolution.
Lali acknowledged that he submitted the barangay resolution to the Comelec as part of the attached documents in the petition.
He also admitted that the resolution was never signed by their elected barangay officials, but could not clearly explain during the hearing how he was able to forge the officials’ signature.
Jimenez has recommended to the city legal office to conduct a thorough investigation on the supposed falsification of public documents committed by the barangay treasurer.
In Landang Gua, at least five village councilors cried foul over the supposed deception committed by their constituent who asked them to sign a document for the implementation of two development projects, such as solar power and water system, in their village.
Awala Abubakar, a village councilor of Landang Gua, said he was deceived by a certain Usman Insani, who told her that the resolution was for the implementation of two projects in their village.
She said Insani never mentioned the plebiscite for Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Insani refuted all the accusations of Landang Gua village officials, saying that he has been explaining to them since August that the resolution that they would signed was in relation to the petition in the Comelec to be included in the plebiscite.
Jimenez said despite the admission of the majority of the village officials of Landang Gua that they signed the resolution, the document still has legal issues as it was not officially passed during a regular session in the local council.