2 killed, 1 injured in Lanao Sur voting

ILIGAN CITY (MindaNews/10 May) — Two persons lining up to vote at the Tugaya Central Elementary School, ended up dead while another one was wounded when a man identified as Albert Balindong strafed them at around 10:45 a.m., Major Ferdinand Cacas, head of the Philippine Army’s 103rd Brigade Election Monitoring and Action Center, said.

Cacas added that the attack was apparently intended to disrupt the balloting process.

Voting in the area was immediately stopped but it proceeded as scheduled in other precincts. Authorities have yet to identify the victims.

Improvised bombs exploded near the gymnasium of the Mindanao State University campus in Marawi City, another explosion happened when a black Isuzu highlander blew up near an elementary school where people were voting and another improvised bomb exploded at an unpopulated corner in Barangay Saduc, but no one was injured, reports from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Citizens Coalition for ARMM Responsible Election (Citizens CARE) said.

Salic Ibrahim, head of Citizens CARE said no person was wounded in the bombing incidents done by men “who are probably out to harass voters and disrupt the conduct of the elections.”

Ibrahim said that there were also mauling incidents in a number of precincts in Marawi.

“In Calanogas town, barangay chairs exchanged fire, hitting one civilian in a crossfire while armed supporters of mayoral candidates at Kapai town ended in an armed confrontation wounding one civilian at about 10 a.m. today,” he said.

Fr. Chito Suganob, head of PPCRV in Marawi, said armed men further engaged the soldiers in Kapai when security officials intervened to supposedly quell violence. There is no report, however, that voting stopped there due to violence, he said.

Citizens CARE also repoted five towns have not conducted elections: Tamparan, Masiu, Lumbatan, Tubaran, Sultan Domalondong and Bayang.

‘Tubaran’s PCOS machines were not yet transported to their town and are still kept by Comelec in Marawi city. Others have absence of board of election inspectors,” Ibrahim said.

Suganob said Comelec officials in those towns have declared that no voting was held there.

Suganob, who was at the Election Monitoring Center at 103rd Infantry Brigade also reported that armed confrontations also happened in Tugaya town because of disagreements among candidates and municipal Comelec officials. He said voting stopped in Lumbayanague, too, due to violence.

Suganob added that there are barangays in Balindong and Bacolod-Kalawi towns that stopped voting.

Mahid Sakar, also of Citizens CARE, reported that two barangays in Buadiposo Buntong town held manual elections because their PCOS machines malfunctioned.

Sakar reported that some barangay officials in the town went inside the precincts and “called on the electorate to vote instead of BEIs doing it. Even soldiers failed to control them.”

Ibrahim said that election failed to start early while a number of PCOS machines malfunctioned. He also said that Maranao voters aren’t using priority numbers; they used the alphabetical method of voting.

Sakar said that automated election went well in Ramain town.

Lanao del Sur has a total registered voters of 396,722 registered voters

In Lanao del Norte, election assistant of provincial Comelec Irma Jean Rosales, reported that malfunctioning of PCOS are common problems. Rosales said they have not yet received reports on problems and concerns of BEIs from hinterland towns.

Juanito Enriquez, managing director of civil society organization’s forum for peace (CSOFP) said truckloads of flying voters from Cagayan de Oro and Marawi city were transported in Tangkal town.
Enriquez also said that a vehicle containing election materials suddenly exploded at Lumba-Bayabao town.

“The generic problem in Lanao provinces is low turn-out of voters,” said Enriquez.

In Iligan city, the Commission on Election (Comelec) extended the voting time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. as majority of the voters of the city complained of the slow-paced conduct of automated pool.

City election officer Roselyn Smith said that defective and malfunctioning of PCOS are common problems in clustered precincts of the city but “we must proceed with the conduct of election based on regional instructions with consideration of delay.”

“We gave discretion to the BEIs on how to conduct the elections. Voters were given priority numbers to look for comfortable places while waiting for the others who are prioritized to votes. The delay is also attributable to slow-pace voting of electorates.

But we can’t blame them for this,” she said.

Smith reported that there were no major election-related violence in the city while minor cases were dealt with by police and military officials.

Many voters also complained they were not on the Comelec list but that their names were in the PPCRV list. (Violeta M. Gloria/MindaNews)