GUINDULUNGAN, Maguindanao (MindaNews/09 May) — A resident of a neighboring town was shot dead as supporters of rival mayoralty bets of the Liberal Party (LP) and the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) clashed inside the compound of the Tambunan Central Elementary School at around 6:20 a.m., barely half an hour after polls opened at 6 a.m.
Police identified the victim as Uray Anta Usop, 20, a resident of neighboring Talayan town. He was hit on the left eye by what Guindulungnan police chief Sr. Insp. Zukarno Kunakon and Army Capt. Alan Gesulta of the 14th Mechanized Company said was “sniper fire.”
Usop was shot on the slope between the main voting precinct centers and the hillside schoolbuilding. It is not clear why Usop, a resident of neighboring Talayan town, was in the school premises but Nelson Sangowan, secretary to Guindulungan Mayor Midpantao Midtimbang, Sr., earlier told MindaNews the victim was a supporter of the mayor.
An armored Personnel Carriers (APC) moves closer to the gates of Tambunan Central Elementary School in Guindulungan town, Maguindanao after a supporter of a mayoralty candidate was shot dead about half an hour after polls opened at 6 a.m. on Monday, May 9, 2016.. MindaNews photo by TOTO LOZANO
The spot report at the police office said LP mayoralty bet Bobby Bondula arrived at the school to cast his vote, escorted by two “blue guards” (security guards in blue uniform). It said Bondula’s escorts pointed their firearms at the civilians, triggering a stone-throwing incident that was initially stopped by the firing of warning shots by the police and the military.
Bondula is running against his cousin, Midpantao Midtimbang, Jr. (UNA), son of outgoing mayor Midpantao Midtimbang, Sr..
Gesulta told MindaNews that before violence broke out, the soldiers were not stationed by the main gate but spread at the back portion and on the side following reports of sightings of armed men in the vicinity of the school since Sunday.
Kunakon said that during the commotion, a Glock 17 9 mm pistol was forcibly taken from PO3 Nasruddin Dalgan.
Tawakal Midtimbang, municipal administrator, wants to know why armed escorts were allowed to enter the school premises.
A young boy tries to feed his father who is waiting for his turn to vote outside his voting precinct in Tambunan Central Elementary School in Guindulungan, Maguindanao province on May 9, 2016. A supporter of a local candidate was gunned down barely half an hour after polls opened at 6 a.m. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano
He told MindaNews that a peace covenant for the elections was signed by candidates including Bondula. The covenant signing was on February 3.
As of 5:30 p.m, Bondula could not be reached for comment.
The stone-throwing incident prompted the two armored personnel carriers parked on the side of the highway to move to the center of the road.
Traffic was stalled for about 15 minutes as soldiers and policemen tried to pacify the supporters of both camps.
MindaNews was moving towards the school about a hundred meters away when the stone-throwing incident happened and vehicles were forced to stop. Three warning shots were heard, which the police and military confirmed came from them.
A few minutes later, gunshots were again heard.
The victim was rushed on a police patrol vehicle to the Regional Hospital in Cotabato City but expired along the way.
Voting resumed immediately after. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)