Ballot box snatched from teachers in Northern Samar town
TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — A ballot box intended for barangay (village) election voters in a remote village in Catubig, Northern Samar, was snatched by two armed men Sunday night.
Lawyer Jose Nick Mendros, regional director of the Commission on Elections in Eastern Visayas, said the ballot box was snatched in San Antonio Elementary School at around 11:45 p.m. Sunday.
The snatchers, who were wearing bonnets, barged into polling centers 65A and 65B and forcibly took the ballot box, Inspector Romuel Nacar, information officer of the Philippine National Police (PNP-8), said.
The two precincts have a total of 318 voters from Barangay (village) San Antonio, 12 kilometers from the Catubig town proper.
The members of the board of election inspectors headed by Marife Turla were inside the classroom serving as a polling precinct when the empty ballot box was snatched, Nacar added.
The three BEI members could not stop the armed robbers, he said.
The intruders immediately fled on foot and were now the subject of a manhunt by the members of the Philippine Army 63rd Infantry Battalion based in Catubig, Northern Samar, according to Captain Gene Orense, spokesman of the 803rd Infantry Brigade based in Catarman, Northern Samar.
While the Comelec usually expected polling precincts to stash filled-up ballots in the boxes assigned to them, Mendros said that in this case, the voting in Barangay San Antonio would still push through, using an improvised ballot box.
Catubig is one of the towns in Northern Samar where the presence of armed men was reported.
The Philippine National Police had placed 147 of the 569 barangay (villages) in the province under the watch list areas for possible occurrence of election-related violence.
Ballot box snatching reported to Comelec
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