MARAWI CITY (MindaNews / 09 May) — Poll violence resulted to the death of four supporters of local candidates and the burning of two elementary schools just hours before voting started in Lanao del Sur on Monday.
Col. Roseller Murillo, chief of the Army 103rd Infantry Brigade said unidentified gunmen ambushed a convoy delivering election paraphernalia to Cabingan Elementary School in Marawi City killing two supporters of the Liberal Party early Monday dawn.
One of the fatalities was identified as Al Hafiz Usman. The other fatality remained unidentified as of press time.
The military report said the two were supporters of Liberal Party Marawi mayoralty candidate Majul Gandamra who were accompanying the delivery of ballots to the school at 3:45 am Monday.
Hours later, supporters of opposing candidates in Marantao town, Lanao del Sur figured in a free-for-all fistfight just as soon the voting centers open at the municipal gym at around 6:45 am.
Police investigator SPO2 Ismael Londo said the victims identified as Saidamen Ampay, 40 years old and Malik Ampay, 37 years old (not related) reportedly ganged up on the lone suspect who pulled a gun and shot them.
Londo said the Ampays were political supporters of Marantao mayoralty candidate Samsung Usop of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino.
Hours before the voting started, unidentified men torched the school buildings in the municipalities of Tamparan and Poona Bayabao in Lanao del Sur.
The first to be torched was the Dilausan Primary School, a two-room facility in Barangay Dilausan in Tamparan town.
Yasmin Mohammad, a volunteer teacher said at about 4:45 am, unidentified men also torched their school, Ragayan Elementary School in Barangay Ragayan, Poona Bayabao town.
Mohammad said the fire destroyed 16 classrooms, their library and stockroom where they placed their school computers.
“We cried because so much was lost. More than 400 students depend on this school,” she said.
Salic Ibrahim, convenor of the Citizens Care Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms said he was appalled by the level of partisanship among Lanao del Sur residents to their chosen candidates.
“They (supporters) even want to sacrifice their lives for the candidates. I have not seen so much loyalty in the past elections,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim blamed the long campaign period for the heightened level of animosity between the political followers.
He said this led to so much pent up emotions that burst on the day of elections.
“There were many fistfights and free-for-all when we toured the voting centers. The supporters were just bursting with anger,” Ibrahim said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)