Elections generally peaceful

Oscar D. Albayalde

But marred by vote-buying.

AS of 1 p.m. yesterday, PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said that the opening hours of balloting in the country’s more than 36,830 voting centers were relatively peaceful and presaged an orderly outcome of Election Day until the closing of polling hours at 6 in the evening.

Gen. Albayalde said that a total of 1,501 PNP personnel nationwide acted as Election Boards following the absence of teachers notably in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Region 10 in Northern Mindanao, Region 5 in Bicol and Region 4-A in Calabarzon region.

“Aside from some confusion, administrative delay and queueing during the opening hours of the elections, there were no major untoward incidents that disrupted the holding of election proper,” he added.

As of press time, the PNP chief said that police nationwide have already arrested 5,500 persons for violating the Comelec-imposed gun ban. Police also seized 4,618 firearms and 44,226 other deadly weapons since the start of the election period last January 13.

Gen. Albayalde said that as of 12 noon yesterday, they have already recorded 100 incidents of vote-buying with police arresting 234 violators and tracking down 10 others.
Police also conducted 374 operations to enforce the nationwide liquor ban which started 12 midnight Saturday and arrested 920 offenders.

Gen. Albayalde said that a total of 43 election-related incidents (ERIs) have been recorded leaving 20 persons dead and 24 others injured since the start of the polling period. Twenty-nine ERI victims were unharmed, he said.

Mindanao explosions

The PNP chief said they also recorded three explosions in Mindanao since Sunday night up to yesterday morning.

The 1st explosion took place 10:04 p.m. Sunday in a vacant lot in Purok Omar, Cotabato City where two improvised explosive devices fashioned out from 40mm projectiles were detonated by unidentified suspects.

Two grenade explosions took place at 1:05 a.m. and 7:10 a.m. yesterday in Poblacion Dalican, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao. One of the grenades was believed to have been thrown by unidentified motorcycle-riding suspects.

“All these incidents happened away from the polling places and so far, based on initial investigation they have no connection with the elections,” Gen. Albayalde said.

The PNP chief said that police are also investigating a shooting incident outside a polling place in Panglima Estino, Sulu which led in the wounding of five civilians and the burning of two private vehicles.

The victims were identified as  Asiri Sadjaani, 65; Ibno Sahipa, 64; Barre Abih, 46; Omal Hasan, 57; and Nadzra Munib, 41.

“The situation is under control and investigation is ongoing to identify the suspects,” he said.

Officials said that the shooting occurred outside the Titipon Elementary School 6:35 in the morning prompting officials to temporarily stop voting in the area. Police said that the victims were believed to be supporters of a candidate who figured in an argument with their rivals prior to the shooting.