MARAWI CITY, Philippines – Four people were killed in just a matter of hours after the polling places opened in two towns in Lanao del Sur province on Monday, May 9.
An unidentified group also destroyed vote-counting machines (VCMs) and ballots in several villages.
Lanao del Sur elections officer Abdul Noor said one of the fatalities was killed inside the Jose Abad Santos Elementary School campus while the two others were killed in the violence that broke out just outside the Malabang National High School in Malabang town.
Noor said those killed were supporters of political rivals Malabang town Mayor Tomas Macapudi and Pecong town Mayor Alinader Balindong.
Balindong is running against Macapudi.
To ease tensions and as a show of force, the Philippine Air Force (PAF) flew a Super Tucano plane and an MG-520 helicopter over the town.
Brigadier General Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said a supporter of a mayoral candidate was also shot and killed after an argument with another supporter of an opposing candidate in Barangay Magonaya in Binidayan town on Monday morning.
Noor said unidentified men also destroyed five VCMs in five villages in Binidayan town.
The suspects slammed the VCMs on the concrete floor and tore ballots afterward, Noor said.
Army soldiers stormed the Sultan Conding Elementary School inside the sprawling Mindanao State University (MSU) campus on Monday morning after receiving reports that public school teachers themselves were the ones filling out the ballots.
The soldiers also found the teachers were not applying the indelible ink on the fingernails of the voters who had just voted.
Seeing this, soldiers manning the school gate took it upon themselves to apply indelible ink on the index fingers of those who just voted.
“These people are very hard-headed. They do not want to follow the Comelec rule,” a soldier manning a gate said.
On Sunday, Army soldiers sent home more than 300 suspected flying voters at a checkpoint in Lanao del Sur. – Rappler.com
Froilan Gallardo is a Mindanao-based journalist and an awardee of the Aries Rufo Journalism Fellowship
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