MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Filipinos trooped to the polls at 6 am on Monday, May 9 led no less by some of the national candidates who were some of the first to cast their votes.
Vice President Jejomar Binay was the first to vote among the 5 presidential bets. He was at a Makati school before 6 am with his family. (WATCH: Live coverage: #PHVote 2016 Philippine elections)
Vice presidential bets Ferdinand Marcos Jr and Francis Escudero also cast their votes shortly past 6 am in their precincts in Batac, Ilocos Norte, and Sorsogon, respectively.
Escudero was accompanied by his wife actress Heart Evangelista, while Marcos went to the precinct with aides.
The husband of presidential candidate Grace Poe, Neil Llamanzares, and her mother Susan Roces also voted early in San Juan. Poe is scheduled to vote at 9 am, while rival Rodrigo Duterte is set to vote in Davao at 2:00 pm yet. Mar Roxas, who arrived in Roxas City early Monday, is also set to vote in the morning.
Shortly before 7 am, presidential candidate Miriam Defensor-Santiago voted in La Vista Subdivision, Quezon City, while vice presidential bet Alan Peter Cayetano cast his vote in Taguig.
Binay’s running mate, Senator Gregorio Honasan, also cast his vote in Marikina.
Over 54 million Filipinos are registered for this year’s presidential elections. At least 44,000 national and local candidates are vying for various posts.
The Philippines has 92,509 clustered precincts nationwide. (READ: Guide to 2016 Philippine elections)
Sporadic incidents of violence in some areas were reported early Monday.
On Sunday, May 8, the Philippine National Police reported 15 dead in confirmed election-related violence this year although many others have been killed or hurt in incidents that are merely suspected of being linked to politics.
On early Monday, however at least 7 people were killed in Rosario town, Cavite.
Hours before the elections, at least 33 civilians, mostly children, also evacuated their homes in Barangay Cautod, Santa Margarita in Samar after being threatened by unidentified armed men for vote-buying.
In Salvador town, Lanao del Norte, a school building in the village of Mamaanon was damaged by an hour-long fire on Monday morning, May 9, according to a GMA News Online report. Before the fire broke out, witnesses heard a series of gun shots and explosions, the report said, quoting the school principal.
In Cebu on Sunday night, May 8, a councilor of Dumanjug in Cebu, Ely Amadora, told the police that he was shot by alleged goons of Vice Mayor Efren Guntrano “Gungun” Gica, who is running for mayor under Liberal Party. Amadora, who is seeking re-election under One Cebu, was unhurt. But Gica denied allegations, saying it was actually reelectionist Mayor Nelson Garcia of One Cebu who shot him.
In Makati, Binay himself complained to the school principal of San Antonio National High School that he saw 3 watchers inside the precinct wearing green shirts, the campaign color of Romulo “Kid” Peña, rival of Binay’s daughter Abigail for the mayoral race in Makati. – with reports from Mara Cepeda, Ryan Macasero/Rappler.com