Comelec says polls in Bukidnon ‘generally peaceful’; political supporter ambushed

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/29 October) – The conduct of Monday’s barangay elections in Bukidnon was “generally peaceful” based on the reports from the election officers of the province’s 20 towns and two cities, the Commission on Elections provincial office said.

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Most election precincts closed by 3p.m. without any untoward incident except in Dangcagan town where polls in two of its 14 villages closed at 3:20 p.m., according to Anna Leah, Yabes, election assistant at the Comelec-Bukidnon.

Closing of polls was delayed in Barangays Dolorosa and Miaray due to a power interruption caused by a lightning that busted the electrical system of their polling centers, she explained.

The provincial police office, however, received reports that a supporter of a candidate for village chief was ambushed by followers of a rival candidate in Bagong Silang, Barangay Sta. Inez, Malitbog town at 11:15 a.m. on October 27, a day before the polls.

The police spot report said a certain Jerry Eballe, 32, was hit in his left thigh and has been declared safe at a hospital in Cagayan de Oro City.

In Kalilangan town two villages were included in the election watch list areas.

But election officer Perlita Tranquillero told MindaNews via telephone the elections went peacefully in Barangay Public (Don Jose) despite the reported “intense political rivalry”.

She said the police sent enough personnel to the area to provide security.

Another Kalilangan village, Barorawon, was included in the list due to the alleged “influence by a separatist group specifically Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).” But Tranquillero said the area was “under control”.

She added that only one candidate, Roel Ampatua, ran for village chief after his supposed opponent gave way, and only 12 candidates aspired for the seven-member village council.

“This could have helped ease the situation,” she opined.

Along with Public and Barorawon in Kalilangan, Sta. Inez in Malitbog is among the 135 villages in Bukidnon included in the election watch list areas.

Bukidnon has 464 barangays.

‘Usual problems’

Yabes admitted that “usual problems” like missing names of voters still happened but considered them “normal” election scenarios.

Nicepura Talines, election officer from Malitbog who was detailed in Malaybalay City said the voters would soon find their names listed in other precincts.

“It’s a problem that could be addressed,” she added.

The City Comelec reported that they received no complaints about voters who voted more than once in a precinct at the Malaybalay City Central School where voting for the poblacion barangays took place.

However, Joy Echano, a candidate for village councilor of Barangay 4, told MindaNews that some voters were able to vote more than once.

“They just changed clothes so as not to be identified. That’s the building where they changed clothes,” Echano said in Cebuano, pointing to a school building.

“That’s the reason why I lost in the previous barangay elections. I approached a policeman, but he said their job is only to maintain order so I have to go to the Comelec,” she added. (Walter I. Balane with a report from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)