Still unidentified armed men flagged on Tuesday a vehicle bearing election personnel who were on their way to deliver election results in Jones, Isabela, and burned at least 200 unread ballots, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported.
Brig. Gen. Jose Mario Espino, director of the Police Regional Office 2, said that unidentified suspects blocked the vehicle bearing Arlyn Borromeo Santos and her team of Board of Election Inspectors and forced them to turn over election equipment before the suspects torched two vote-counting machines (VCM) and election paraphernalia.
Razed during the attack, which transpired at around 6:24 a.m., along the road in Barangay Santa Isabel, Jones, Isabela, were about 200 unread ballots, Espino said.
Santos and her team were on their way to the Jones Municipal Hall to deliver election paraphernalias from Polling Precinct 0037A, 0037B, 0038A, 0038B and 0038P1 of Barangay Dicamay I and polling precinct 0039A, 0039B, 0039C, 0040A, 0040B and 0040P1 of Barangay Dicamay II when they were stopped.
“Upon reaching Barangay Santa Isabel, Jones, Isabela, the group of armed men ordered them to unload the VCM and immediately burned the said paraphernalia,” said Espino who ordered the Isabela police to conduct an in-depth investigation into the incident.
In Cotabato City, two successive explosions hit the city, with one of the blasts occurring inside the compound of the Cotabato City Hall on Monday night just as election officials were busy working through the election results.
Maj. Arvin Encinas, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said the explosions occurred within a one minute interval at past 10 p.m. outside and within the compound of the city hall.
“One of the sites of the explosions is located within the city hall compound, just meters away from the City Hall building where a fragment of 40 millimeter was recovered,” he said.
PNP chief Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said on Tuesday that while incidents have marked the balloting, the PNP and the military have been working to address these.
“There may have been incidents of violence, vote buying and harassment but these have all been resolutely and efficiently addressed by our police units together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Commission on Elections,” he said.
Albayalde noted a decrease of about 60 percent in the number of election-related violence compared to the 2016 elections, with the PNP recording only 43 incidents with 73 victims as against the 106 incidents with 192 victims in the 2016 national and local elections.
“During the election day, the PNP has also recorded 41 incidents ranging from commotion, mauling, attempted murder, and shooting incidents. However, investigation is still going on to verify which are actually election-related incidents or not,” he said.
The PNP also recorded 225 incidents of vote buying wherein 441 people were arrested and eight minors rescued.
On the liquor ban, a total number of 387 incidents were reported with 986 persons arrested.
At least 5,500 people were also arrested for violating the gun ban wherein 4,618 firearms and 44,226 other deadly weapons were confiscated, recovered and surrendered.
Albayalde said the election period is until June 12, and as such, carrying of firearms, explosives and other deadly weapons, “organization of security forces, and unauthorized employment of bodyguards and security personnel” are still prohibited.
“In effect, all valid Permits to Carry Firearms Outside of Residence (PTCFOR) issued by the PNP to qualified registered firearm holders remain suspended until the lifting of the Comelec gun ban period on June 12, 2019,” the PNP chief said.