Bloody election day in Mindanao: 7 killed, over 20 hurt
BULUAN, MAGUINDANAO—Blood spilled in various parts of Mindanao as violence claimed seven lives and caused injury to more than 20 others on election day, May 9.
Violence disrupted voting in several precincts in Lanao del Sur and Basilan after armed men tried to snatch ballots and destroy the vote-counting machines.
Some 100 police officers were augmented in Buluan town, Maguindanao, on Monday to contain rising tensions after gunmen aboard two vehicles killed three members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team who were sitting in a parked patrol vehicle at past 8 a.m.
The unarmed village watchmen, who wore their uniforms, died on the spot from gunshots of M-16 rifles, according to Maj. Roldan Kuntong, spokesperson of the Maguindanao police office.
Kuntong identified the slain BPAT members as Misuary Dimapalao, Sajid Kamama and Tata Bulilo. Jadid Ulangkaya, another BPAT member, was injured.
Also on Monday morning, the house of former Buluan mayor Zajid Mangudadatu was strafed. Mangudadatu told reporters that no one was hurt in the incident.
The driver of a mayoral aspirant in the town survived a stabbing on Monday and is now recuperating from wounds in the stomach at a local hospital.
Buluan was earlier placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) due to the potential for election-related violence, prompting the deployment of more police and Army personnel just before the polls on Monday.
In Malabang, Lanao del Sur, which is also under Comelec control, three persons were killed, while two others were injured when supporters of warring local candidates traded gunfire inside the Malabang National High School, a designated voting center, at around noon on Monday.
Col. Christopher Panapan, Lanao del Sur police director, said investigators were still trying to determine the circumstances that led to the gunfight that killed three voters.
Panapan said two of the fatalities were Ambol Macapodi and Ansano Paramata, both relatives of mayoral candidate Al-Rashid Boloto Macapodi, brother of the incumbent mayor.
Jong Balindong, the third fatality, was related to mayoral aspirant Dagar Balindong.
The fighting also left Saidamen Macapodi and Alikman Sidic wounded. They are now recuperating in a local hospital.
At around 2 p.m., gunmen in Tabuan Lasa town in Basilan opened fire on a group of six men who were staying in the port of Barangay Tong Umus.
Brig. Gen. Domingo Gobway, commander of the Army’s Joint Task Force Basilan, identified the lone fatality as Ricardo Fabian, 47, of Barangay Talon-Talon, Zamboanga City.
Those wounded were identified as Andy Reyes, 30, of Barangay Mampang, Zamboanga City; Narrudin Gadjali, 29, of Talipao, Sulu; Alnasri Jammang, 29, of Talipao, Sulu; Bol Madjalis, 48, of Tungkil, Sulu; and Hakim Munib, 38, of Lanawan, Tabuan Lasa, Basilan.
Gobway said they were still establishing the reason why the six individuals were in Tabuan Lasa.
“Perhaps they could be flying voters. We cannot definitely say why they were there, the police are still conducting an investigation,” Gobway added.
In Butig, Lanao del Sur, armed men snatched away a vote-counting machine and ballots, halting the balloting exercise in a precinct in Butig Central School.
According to Lt. Col. Rumulos Rabara, commander of the Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion, the gunmen took away some 700 used and unused ballots.
Rabara said the voting center opened at 10 a.m. due to some glitches, only to close by 3 p.m. due to the harassment. While there was an available VCM and several ballots that could be used, the precinct did not open for voting as the members of the electoral board feared for their safety, Rabara added.
In another precinct in Butig National High School, armed men also snatched ballots, only to return these with pre-shaded entries.
At another voting center in the same school, the saboteurs were not able to take away the election paraphernalia as one member of the electoral board hugged and kept hold of them despite being threatened with blows from a baseball bat.
The commotion lasted long enough for security forces to arrive.
In Tipo-Tipo, Basilan, Kamar Arangli, who is said to be a member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, attempted to bring ballots and a ballot box outside of the voting center in Barangay Silangkum on Monday morning, just an hour after the precinct opened for balloting.
Maj. Gen. Alfredo Rosario, chief of the Western Mindanao Command, said soldiers managed to pacify Arangli and recovered the election paraphernalia.
Meanwhile, many voters in the villages of Limbo Upas, Tipo-Tipo Poblacion, Bohe Lebbung, Silangkum and Bohe Tambak failed to cast their votes after a certain Nurhassan Jamiri, known in the community as a former leader of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, advised them to leave the premises of the voting center and to allow his group of men to cast the ballots for them.
Jamiri’s companions were reportedly armed.—With reports from Bong Sarmiento, Williamor Magbanua /ra
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.