AT least 10 people were killed and three schools were burned down in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) on Monday as millions voted in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
In Tuburan, Basilan, six people, one of them a barangay captain, were shot and hacked by attackers outside a polling precinct, police reported.
In Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte, two people were gunned down, and five others were wounded in a clash between rival groups about an hour before polling centers opened.
Shooting victim Personnel of the Bureau of Fire Protection in Basilan province bring a wounded man to hospital following a shooting incident in Tuburan town. BFP Basilan photo
In Lanao del Sur’s Butig town, a man running for barangay captain shot and killed his brother, who was his rival candidate.
In Lanao del Norte, a woman was killed when a gunfight broke out after a van carrying a village captain and her supporters was stopped on a road by people backing her rival, the military reported.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said three schools in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Narita in Maguindanao del Norte and Poona Piagapo in Lanao del Norte, which were serving as voting centers, were set afire.
Acorda added that 17 vote-buying incidents were reported in Regions 1, 2, 3, 4A, 6, 7, 9, 12, and the National Capital Region.
Security forces have been on high alert as the long-delayed elections for more than 336,000 council positions got underway.
More than 300,000 police officers and soldiers have been deployed to secure polling stations in over 42,000 villages.
In the run-up to Monday’s vote, there were 30 confirmed incidents of election-related violence, compared with 35 in 2018, the PNP said Sunday.
About one-third of the incidents happened in the BARMM.
In 2009, before it was divided into two provinces, Maguindanao was the scene of the country’s deadliest single incident of political violence on record.
Fifty-eight people were massacred as gunmen allegedly working for a local warlord attacked a group of people to stop a rival from filing his election candidacy.
Previous police data showed eight people were killed and seven injured in poll-related violence between August 28 and October 25.
TORN Torn ballots are strewn at the Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School after a group of men barged inside and seized the documents on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. PHOTO TAKEN FROM VIDEO OF COMELEC ELECTION OFFICER JULIUS CUEVAS
More than 67 million people were registered to vote in the elections, which President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. described Monday as “very important” for higher-level politicians.
“What happens here in the barangay… are going to have an effect on the results of the mid-term elections and subsequently at the national elections,” Marcos said after casting his vote in his family’s stronghold of Batac City, Ilocos Norte.
Village elections are supposed to be held every three years, but the last vote was in 2018.
Acorda inspected several polling precincts in Quezon City for a firsthand look at the election situation.
In Negros Oriental, no incidents were reported during the early hours of the elections.
The province was placed under Commission on Elections (Comelec) control because of rising political tension following a series of killings, including the assassination of Governor Roel Degamo last March.
In Libon, Albay, despite the killing of a candidate for barangay captain during the campaign period, the voting was relatively peaceful, Acorda said.