Failure of elections looms in 2 Isabela villages
CITY OF ILAGAN, ISABELA, Philippiones — Local poll officials have recommended the declaration of failure of elections in two villages in Jones town, Isabela province, after armed men burned two vote-counting machines (VCMs) on Tuesday.
Michael Camangeg, provincial election supervisor and canvassing board chair, said his office had already informed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc about the incident.
The Comelec had earlier classified Jones as an election hot spot.
The burned VCMs contained unread official ballots from polling precincts in Barangays Dicamay I and Dicamay II, Camangeg said.
“The possible remedy is to have a new balloting in the affected barangay. However, we have to wait for the declaration of the Comelec en banc if [there is] a failure of elections,” he said.
Armed men ordered the board of election inspectors to unload the VCMs, which reportedly malfunctioned, from a dump truck that was en route to the municipal canvassing center at the town hall, and set the machines on fire.
On Wednesday, police arrested two suspects, identified as Rodel Pascual and Jayson Leano, who were pinpointed by witnesses.
Without elaborating, police officials said they were looking at groups like the New People’s Army and armed men or personalities like politicians who would benefit from burning the poll materials.
Camangeg also said glitches in the electronic transmission of election results had stalled the canvassing and proclamation of winners in Isabela, particularly in the towns of Alicia, Echague, Divilacan, Palanan and Jones.
Damaged secure digital cards were also reported at Barangays Aurora and Sta. Maria in Alicia, but these were immediately reconfigured, Camangeg said. —Villamor Visaya Jr.
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