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Marines secure Zamboanga poll officers

/ 01:11 AM November 26, 2013

ZAMBOANGA CITY—Some voters became so unruly that board of election tellers (BETs) had to call the Marines to guard them during Monday’s barangay polls here.

At Zamboanga State College of Marine Sciences and Technology (ZSCMST), the soldiers stood outside the poll precincts inside the gymnasium. Nurhaina Mabolo, a BET member for a Rio Hondo voting precinct, said the board had asked for security when the crowd started to become unruly at around 10 a.m.

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The school was used as precincts for voters from the villages of Rio Hondo, Santa Barbara, Mariki, Zone 4 and Santa Catalalina, which were affected by the siege of Zamboanga City by Moro rebels in September, according to its president, Dr. Milavel Nazario.

The five barangays have about 10,000 registered voters, said the Commission on Elections officer for the first district, Jesus Alvin Lim. The city has 98 barangays, with 2,930 candidates vying for 784 positions.

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Irregularities were reported in yesterday’s political exercise to choose the barangay chair and eight members of the barangay legislative council.

At ZSCMST, two women, who declined to be named, told the Inquirer that their husbands voted for them.

Another woman said some barangay leaders assisted her in voting, writing down the names of their candidates before putting indelible ink on her finger. “They gave me food and fare in return,” she told the

Inquirer.

Roderick Trio, the school’s security officer, said the police had to drive away “guides, watchers and people who volunteered to help voters” who were inside the polling places.

“There were voters who allowed their guides and alalay (supporters) to cast votes for them and some watchers questioned it,” Trio said.

In Barangay Taluksangay, poll teller Aiza Jamilul said the board allowed people to assist “because majority of the voters are illiterate.” Jamilul said it was common in Barangay Taluksangay that “the whole family coaches each other during balloting.”

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Rahina Tabtabun, a Badjao, said she was assisted by someone to fill out her ballot as she does not know how read nor write.

Salimar Tantong, one of those who helped illiterate voters, said all she did was to write down what the voters dictated. “We don’t impose anything. We make sure their rights are respected,” Tantong said.

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TAGS: barangay polls, Marines, Regions, Zamboanga
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