Village poll loser guns down brod, 2 sisters
A barangay captain in Capiz province shot and killed his three siblings after he and his daughter lost in Monday’s grass-roots elections, bringing to at least 34 the number of people killed in poll-related violence, the Philippine National Police reported.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas in a news conference on Tuesday said that while the polling was generally peaceful, he was appalled by the incident on the island barangay (village) of Manapao in Pontevedra early Tuesday.
“It’s disheartening and saddening. It makes me wonder what this barangay official was thinking,” said Roxas, who ordered the PNP to go after the gunman.
Insp. William Limjuco, the Pontevedra police chief, said Manuel Arcenas, 58, the outgoing barangay captain of Manapao, gunned down his brother Ramon, 56, and sisters Jennifer Nuyles, 53, and Evelyn Espinar, 51.
The shooting happened after Ramon was proclaimed winner as barangay captain. Manuel was ending his term and was running for councilor. So, he fielded his daughter Isabel, 19, to run for barangay chief. Father and daughter lost.
Josephine, Ramon’s widow, told the police she saw Manuel holding a carbine rifle with two .45 cal. pistols tucked in his waist when he arrived at the house of their neighbor, Winnie Baticula, where her husband and sisters-in-law were having coffee.
She said Manuel, using the carbine rifle, shot his siblings one by one and then left. Ramon suffered a bullet wound in the head, while Evelyn and Jennifer had multiple bullet wounds.
In addition to the three siblings gunned down early Tuesday in Pontevedra, nine others were killed in Monday’s polling in 42,000 barangays nationwide. At least 22 others were killed in the run-up to the balloting. Another 41 people were wounded in 46 politically motivated incidents, the PNP said.
The figures surpassed the 25 poll-related incidents recorded during the 2010 barangay elections that left 15 people dead.
Palace: incidents minimal
In an attempt to play down the violence, Malacañang on Tuesday expressed skepticism about the toll of lives. “Reports on the number of incidents on Election Day need to be reviewed and analyzed further for the PNP to determine with certainty if indeed those incidents are election-related,” said Palace spokesman Herminio Coloma.
He shrugged off reports of ballot-snatching and vote-buying, saying these also happened in the past elections.
Coloma said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) did everything to minimize the incidents.
“On the whole, based on their own assessment, the problem related to election anomalies or irregularities were minimal,” he said. “Perhaps, we should recognize that the maturity process takes time. And because many of these practices have been recurring over a long period, there’s a need for a widespread information drive against these,” he said.
Coloma said attending to election complaints was the primary responsibility of the Comelec, with the police only serving as its deputized arm.
“Where is the evidence?” Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. said Tuesday when asked by reporters about the many incidents of vote-buying reported in the media.
“Vote-buying is a very sensitive act, which means you need evidence to prove vote-buying. Otherwise, all the losing candidates will say that their opponent won because of vote-buying,” he said.
Cases against the culprits can be lodged in the Comelec without any filing fee, he said. Penalty for vote-buying is one to six years’ imprisonment.
Msgr. Meliton Oso, a coordinator in Iloilo City of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, on Tuesday added his voice to denounce rampant vote-buying on Monday.
“We thought that national and local elections are the worst. But the barangay elections are no different,” Oso told the Inquirer.
“Before, they just gave out rice or other material gifts but in Monday’s elections I received reports of vote-buying from a low of P200 to P400 to as much as P1,000 per voter,” he added.
Oso said the willingness of voters to accept the bribes showed the level of poverty and the decline in values. “Politicians are exploiting the poverty of the people. Vote-buying is wrong and it is a sin,” he said.
The Comelec said Tuesday that 75 percent of the winners had been proclaimed. As of 5 p.m. Tuesday, winners have been proclaimed in 38,452 out of 42,028 barangays.
Elections in about 30 barangays, mostly in Mindanao, which had been delayed for various reasons, were to be held on Tuesday or Wednesday, the Comelec said.
Brillantes said he was awaiting the report of Comelec Commissioner Al Parreño regarding the status of the conduct of polls in the 51 barangays in Lanao del Sur province, where election workers refused to serve because of security concerns.—With reports from Michael Lim Ubac in Manila; Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas; Edwin Fernandez, Inquirer Mindanao; Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon; Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon; and Shiena M. Barrameda and Delfin Mallari, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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