Sun.Star Cebu

Police take over voting in 2 Maguindana­o areas

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MORE than 500 police officers became members of special electoral boards in two areas in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) on Election Day, May 9, 2022, due to tensions and violent incidents that occurred there.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) confirmed that police officers had served as special electoral board members in Maguindana­o Province and in Cotabato City due to violent incidents that occurred there since Sunday, May 8.

In Maguindana­o, 47 police officers replaced the province’s special electoral board following an explosion that occurred at the premises of the Datu Unsay municipal hall in Barangay Meta around 7 p.m. Sunday.

Police said five rounds of suspected M203 grenade exploded, resulting in the wounding of Mokom Dimatingka­l, 16; Jomar Kinson, 30; Brahim Guiamalon, 47; Dhags M. Payag, 46; Amil Midzik, 17; Pahad Bandao, 16; Knotan Adam, 26; Karoten Longkatay, 30; and Asrap Abdul, 17.

The victims were brought to the Maguindana­o Provincial Hospital for treatment.

Police said people from far-flung areas in Datu Unsay clogged the area as they came early to avoid the delay in voting because of the distance.

Clearing operations have been conducted in the area to preempt similar incidents.

Meanwhile, two more explosions transpired in a public terminal in Shariff Aguak, Maguindana­o Sunday evening.

No one was hurt. Around 7:40 a.m. Monday, May 9, three individual­s were killed, while another one was wounded in a shooting incident in front of the elementary school in Barangay Poblacion, Buluan, Maguindana­o.

The fatalities were identified as Misuary Dimapalao, Sajid Kamama and Tata Bulilo.

Major Valeriano de Leon, PNP director for operations, said aside from ongoing hot pursuit operations against those responsibl­e, their personnel are also conducting an investigat­ion to determine the motive for the explosions.

He said it is likely that local armed terrorist groups were behind the incidents.

In Cotabato City, over 500 policemen have taken over as members of special board of elections as tensions gripped the city over the weekend ahead of the 2022 national and local elections.

Colonel Jean Fajardo, PNP spokespers­on, said as of 10 a.m. Monday, May 9, 26 of the 33 polling centers in Cotabato City had started the voting process.

The delay in the start of the voting in other polling centers in the city stemmed from the delay in the delivery of vote counting machines (VCMs).

The tension reportedly was felt after a group identified with the United Bangsamoro Justice Party blocked the release of VCMs to polling centers from the local office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

There were also alleged attempts to snatch ballots in the towns of Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat in Maguindana­o.

Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat were among the areas in Maguindana­o that had been placed under Comelec control ahead of the elections.

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