Lanao Sur polls peaceful – military

Police personnel try to control the crowd of voters at a polling place in Sagonsongan, Marawi where evacuees from the 2017 Marawi Siege temporarily reside. 24 barangays have their precincts here. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

MARAWI CITY (MindaNews/13 May) – The military here said Monday’s elections in Lanao del Sur were generally peaceful, adding that martial law may be the main reason behind it.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade overseeing the province, said that as of 3 p.m. on election day, they gathered reports of only two shooting incidents, but one was related to a rido, or clan war.

“We can attribute this to martial law. We can implement the gun ban better, especially among the candidates and their bodyguards,” he said.

Brawner said that residents are also aware that in recent polls – like in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, and also during the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro organic law – violators were apprehended immediately and turned over to the police.

Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. at the 103rd Infantry Brigade headquarters in Kampo Ranaw, Marawi City, 13 May 2019. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

He said one was killed in the municipality of Lumbatan before noon when armed men fired and killed Lailanei Batara as the latter was driving his motorcycle along the highway. “It was not election related. Apparently there’s a long-standing feud,” Brawner told reporters.

He said another was wounded in a strafing incident in Tubaran town also in the morning, but the victim is now stable.

Brawner admitted though that there were fistfights in some precincts, like in Amai Pakpak Elementary School in downtown Marawi, but these were stopped right away before these could escalate.

Salic Ibrahim, convenor of Citizens Care Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms, said “naa gihapon sinumbagay, naa gihapon pinusilay (there were still fistfights, there were still gunfights), but not the usual.”

In a visit to polling precincts, MindaNews also learned from residents in the municipality of Marantao that a fistfight among supporters from opposing camps occurred just outside the precinct at the Dana’ingud Bacong Elementary School. But soldiers reportedly intervened right away to break the fight.

A policewoman assists voters find their precincts in Bacolod Kalawi, Lanao del Sur, 13 May 2019. MindaNews photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Brawner’s deputy, Col. Jose Maria Cuerpo, while monitoring balloting at the temporary shelter site for evacuees in Barangay Sagonsongan in Marawi Monday morning, radioed his men to send more troops to help control the unruly crowd.

Cuerpo also reminded election board members to keep candidates’ watchers away from the voters writing on their ballots. (Bobby Timonera/MindaNews)