Canvassing suspended in Isulan due to twin blasts

Supt. Danilo Posadas, Isulan police chief, said no one was hurt when the two homemade bombs separately exploded near the municipal council's session hall at around 9 p.m. But the wind shield of a tricycle parked nearby was reportedly damaged.

The blasts, however, added more tension to the protest-marred canvassing of votes in the municipality. Posadas said the members of the board of canvassers immediately decided to stop the canvassing and leave the area due to concerns over their safety.

"We are still investigating the incident but we are looking at the possibility that this is politically-motivated," Posadas said in a radio interview.

Isulan Vice Mayor Alfonso Dimasuay, who is leading the mayoral race over three other candidates by a slim margin, said the explosion delayed anew his supposed proclamation Tuesday night. He said at least seven election returns have yet to be canvassed by the board of canvassers when it decided to suspend again its proceedings.

As of this morning, Dimasuay, who ran under the opposition Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), said it was not clear when the municipal board of canvassers, the second set convened by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) since last week, would proceed with the canvassing.

He said there were reports that the members of the board of canvassers have confided to Comelec provincial supervisor Paisal Tanjili that they are no longer inclined to return to their posts because of the incident.

Last Friday evening, the original members of the board of canvassers requested for their relief following a grenade explosion at the town's public market.

The Comelec also replaced election officer Mamorantao Capampangan with Malic Sansarona to head the municipal board of canvassers.

The Friday explosion came after the camp of Dimasuay raised objections during the canvassing after finding alleged tampering in several election returns from barangay Lagandang.

"We found alterations in the returns, wherein my tally was shaved by at least 400 votes," Dimasuay said.

Despite the alleged vote-shaving, Dimasuay said he maintained a slim lead over closest rival Diosdado Palasigue of the administration-backed Kabalikat ng Malayang Pilipino (Kampi).

Since last week, hundreds of supporters of the two mayoral bets have been staging a vigil at the municipal hall grounds in a bid to protect the votes of their candidates and protest the alleged massive fraud in the area during the May 14 elections.

The Philippine National Police immediately deployed additional policemen from the regional mobile group to secure the canvassing area and quell the worsening tension brought about by the protests. (With reports from Williamor A. Magbanua / MindaNews)