Residents of Brgy. Mahayahay in Maluso, Basilan arrive at Maluso Central School where voting was transferred because of reported threats from the Abu Sayyaf. (Photo by Daniel Abunales)

Election violence in Basilan unstopped

Isabela, Basilan – This province recorded the most cases of election violence in the region on polling day, the Philippine National Police-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (PNP-ARMM) said.

There were 10 reported incidents of violence Basilan, a province notorious for armed groups, killings, kidnappings, unresolved clan wars, among others.

Despite the string of violence last Monday, PNP Basilan Director Mario Dapillosa described the polls as “generally peaceful,” telling Vera Files he was surprised that there were no untoward incidents in the municipalities Albarka and Sumisip, both considered election hotspots.

PNP Basilan reported eight incidents in the province while PNP-ARMM’s recorded 10.Whatever the final figure, the reports tend to show that violence persisted in the province, compared to other fewer incidents reported in other ARMM areas such as Maguindanao and Sulu.

Ahead of the Oct 28 barangay elections, a poll watchdog warned that one-third of the barangays in the province were potential areas of concern.

Dapillosa, on the eve of the elections, appealed for an end to violence after six people were wounded in four incidents in the province days before the political exercise. He made the plea before 800 candidates running as barangay chairman in 255 villages during a peace summit where they pledged orderly and peaceful elections.

The reported violence last Monday included shooting incidents at Cabangalan in Ungkaya Pukan and Sitio Lebbak, Barangay Mahawid in the municipality of Tipo-Tipo. The incident in Cabangalan left one wounded, while the victim at Tipo-Tipo was shot dead.

Ballot snatchings were also listed in Barangay Lanawan in the municipality of Tabuan Lasa and Barangay Bohe-Suyak, Ungkaya Pukan. No one was hurt in those incidents.

Meanwhile, indiscriminate firing by a group of men wearing bonnets and armed with assorted high-powered firearms was also recorded in Lower Bato-Bato, Akbar. The incident happened around noon, causing panic among its residents and the election tellers. No one was hurt but it was found that one ballot box was missing when the firing subsided, and believed to be snatched by the group.

The armed men were alleged to be supporters of Abubakr Isa Jahaddin, a punong barangay candidate of Mangalut.

Indiscriminate firing incidents were also recorded in barangay Tong-Umus in the municipality of Tabuan-Lasa. The firing took place at 4:30 a.m. and 9:40 a.m. and caused residents to evacuate. An estimated 250 persons evacuated to Barangay Lanawan, 50 to barangay Bagbag and 100 to barangay Balanting all of Tabuan-Lasa municipality.

A hacking incident was also recorded in barangay Lanawan, Tabuan Lasa. The victim identified as Mangoy Jaharon sustained wounds on the left side of his head and arms. The victim was brought Maluso Municipal Health Clinic for medical attention.

A mauling incident took place in Sitio Mamburing, Barangay Mahawid in Tuburan where a watcher sustained severe injury on his forehead that needed medical attention.

Reported threats from the Abu Sayyaf Group prompted the Commission on Elections to transfer voting from Mahayahay in the municipality of Maluso to Maluso Central Elementary School. Members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines escorted the voters.

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