Gunmen disrupt vote canvass in Zambo Sur town
PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines – Gunmen opened fire at the plaza of Dimataling town in Zamboanga del Sur and cut off electricity at the nearby town hall where the canvassing of votes was ongoing close to midnight on Thursday, May 16.
Lieutenant Colonel Marlowe Patria, commander of the Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry Battalion, said police and soldiers securing the area immediately repulsed the attackers, causing them to retreat to a still unknown direction.
Patria said the motive behind the attack has yet to be determined by police.
“We leave it to PNP to investigate and establish who could be the perpetrators and their motives,” he added.
Dimataling Mayor Dolores Baya, who is seeking reelection, told the Inquirer by phone that the armed group also fired their guns at the transformer outside the municipal hall, leaving the whole building with no electricity up to now.
She said all poll watchers and the security groups never left the municipal hall, while all vote counting machines (VCM) were locked by their municipal election officer inside the treasurer’s office.
As of 4:29 a.m. May 17, returns from only 16 out of 33 VCMs have been canvassed, according to the Comelec.
Baya who is running under the Nacionalista Party has so far garnered 3,151 votes against her challenger Abel Yrauda (PDP Laban), who had 2,536 votes.
The votes represent 48.48 percent of the returns. (Editor: Mike U. Frialde)
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