6 dead in poll violence in BARMM
Six people were killed — all in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) — during the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Monday, but the Philippine National Police said the polls were generally peaceful in most parts of the country.
Still, PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. noted that the violent election-related incidents for this election might surpass that of the previous polls.
“But the good thing in the majority of the incidents reported is that our police were able to respond immediately. The incidents were pacified and Election Day proceeded. So far, we have not recorded any area which declared a failure of elections,” he said.
According to Acorda, the number of validated election-related incidents (ERIs) for the elections as of Monday afternoon had climbed to 35, while there were 191 other unvalidated incidents.
During the elections five years ago, 57 violent incidents, which killed at least 35 people and wounded 27 others, were reported from April 14 to May 18, 2018.
“Based on our initial assessment as of 3 p.m., the closing of polling centers, the conduct of the elections nationwide is generally peaceful as there are no major incidents recorded so far that compromised [its] integrity,” Brig. Gen. Chito Bersaluna, the PNP deputy director for operations, added at a press briefing at the PNP Command Center in Camp Crame.
According to Bersaluna, there were “no major incidents recorded so far, except for some minor cases of delay in the opening of polling centers.”
There were reported snags in the delivery of election paraphernalia in the BARMM and Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan); power interruption in Oriental Mindoro; and some missing names in the list of registered voters and the temporary suspension of the voting process due to the commotion in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.
Elections were also delayed due to the withdrawals of teachers to serve as members of the electoral board in Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Sur, Abra, and Kalinga.
“The issues and concerns were immediately addressed … Hence, the [voting] in these areas proceeded accordingly,” Bersaluna noted.
According to Bersaluna, 10 minor incidents were monitored during the voting hours on Monday: two mauling incidents in Zamboanga Peninsula, two cases of physical injury in Northern Mindanao, a case of malicious mischief in the Cordillera, and a reported harassment of a deployed police personnel in Soccsksargen.
There was also a hacking incident and an illegal campaigning incident in Calabarzon; a light threat case in Bicol; and a vote-buying and vote-selling incident in Malabon City.
But Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza, the BARMM police director who attended the briefing remotely, reported six shooting incidents in the region during the voting hours, in which six were killed and 11 others wounded.
The attacks happened despite the deployment of 7,630 security personnel — 4,354 from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, 3,119 from the PNP, and 257 from the Philippine Coast Guard — to the BARMM.
At 6 a.m., an hour before the official start of balloting, two persons, identified only as supporters of a local candidate for village chair, were killed in Bugawas village, Datu Sinsuat town, prompting local officials to move the voting to a nearby barangay covered court.
Barely 10 minutes later, in Bacolod, Lanao del Norte, Samsoding Manalao Disumimba, 43, was killed when a firefight broke out between supporters of incumbent barangay captain Samena Abdul Latif Rascal and her challenger Soud Lumbak Palman less than a kilometer away from the village’s polling center.
When voting started in Lanao del Sur, Madid Bao, a candidate for village chair in Barangay Poktan, was wounded in a gun attack but died on the way to Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City, according to provincial police director Col. Robert Daculan.
Also before 7 a.m., in nearby Bayabao Central School in Butig, Lanao del Sur, two voters were shot dead by still unidentified gunmen.
Three persons were also killed in two separate attacks in Basilan province, but Col. Fredrick Sales, deputy commander of the Army’s 101st Infantry Brigade, said: “We cannot directly attribute it as election-related violence as of now due to the ongoing investigation.”
In Abra, where the Comelec ordered the deployment of 821 security personnel after nearly 300 teachers withdrew from their election duties, more police officers were sent to Tineg town due to a shooting incident.
In an initial report, police said a man had discharged a weapon at Tineg’s Barangay Lapat-Balantay on Election Day “possibly to create a commotion.” No one was hurt in the incident.
In Cagayan province, police recorded a case of vote-buying at Cabaggan village in Pamplona town after the husband of a barangay captain aspirant allegedly distributed P1,000 cash to a couple who reported the incident.
In Angeles City, a commotion gripped the election in Malabanias village after supporters of a candidate for barangay captain reportedly barred 50 members of the indigenous group Badjao from entering a poll precinct.
According to James Pasamonte, head of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the Badjaos were accused of being nonvoters in Malabanias.
In Bataan, some members of an Aeta community from the remote Sitio Kinawan (subvillage) were fetched by policemen to help them cast their vote at Binaritan Elementary School, located several kilometers from their homes.
In Zambales province, some candidates had to be forced out of poll precincts in San Antonio town after they were seen lingering inside even after casting their votes.
Despite some reports of harassment and delays that caused long lines at polling precincts, the conduct of elections in the Visayas was “generally peaceful and successful.”
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Comelec regional director in Central Visayas, said there was no election-related violence when voting ended and tabulation of votes began.
However, Castellano said they ordered the deployment of more policemen in villages where some candidates were facing disqualification cases during the proclamation of winners.
He said there was a need to have more policemen in polling centers in Buanoy in Balamban town, Valladolid in Carcar City, and Maguikay, Mandaue City, in Cebu as well as in Cancawas in San Jose, Negros Oriental, to prevent any disorder that might arise from supporters of candidates who could not be proclaimed due to pending cases at the Comelec.