4 poll workers survive ambush

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013


FOUR election inspectors asked for help from the police after two armed men stopped them a kilometer away from their assigned precinct in Carcar City.

They were told to drop to the ground, but were left unharmed. Their attackers also fled without taking any of the boxes of ballots the workers were transporting.

Two strafing incidents marred the elections in San Fernando town, which is in Cebu Province’s first district, like Carcar.

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In Tabogon, a vehicular accident killed an 80-year-old man and hurt 17 others who were sharing a ride on their way to vote.

But towns and cities that were tense in the weekend before the election—like Alegria and Santander in the second district, and Bogo City in the fourth—saw elections that were generally quiet.

Bogo and San Fernando are in the election watch list of areas singled out by the police for their intense political rivalry and potential for election-related violence.

But unlike the elections in 2010, when a stand-off occurred between opposing political camps, police said there was no major election-related incident in Bogo yesterday.

In Carcar City, four members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) asked for help from the police, saying armed men harassed them in Sitio Hunob, Barangay Guadalupe at 4 a.m. yesterday.

Rosalia Barbadillo said she and three companions were in a truck, carrying boxes filled with ballots, when a car blocked their way a kilometer from their destination.

Ambushed?

Two men with high-powered firearms disembarked and ordered the BEIs and their driver to lie down. One of the two men fired a warning shot.

PO1 Mario Ewayan, who was assigned in the area, rushed to the scene after receiving a text message from one of the BEIs, asking for his help. Ewayan also called up the city’s police station for back-up.

However, when the police got there, the armed men had fled and only the BEIs remained. The boxes containing the ballots remained untouched as well.

Late yesterday afternoon in San Fernando, also in the first district, a supporter of mayoral candidate Lakambini Reluya was hurt after he and two companions were allegedly ambushed by an unidentified armed person in a mountain barangay.

Antonio Cong, 61, was with fellow supporters Joyce Saducas, 42, and Lyka Selma, 15, in a white SUV that belongs to Reluya’s husband and vice mayoral candidate Ricardo, when they were suddenly waylaid by an unidentified man armed.

The man carried a shotgun when he confronted the group in Barangay Balungag around 4 p.m.

Delivery

San Fernando’s police chief said investigators are looking at other angles, but believe it was probably politically motivated.

Cong told reporters he and his two companions had just delivered snacks and some documents to the poll precincts in Balungag and were proceeding toward Barangay Tubod.

They suddenly noticed that some of the residents were fleeing. At that point, he said, the man began firing at his group.

Cong managed to keep driving despite a gunshot wound. They escaped further harm when a supporter of the Reluyas reportedly offered to hide them.

Cong was rushed to the Carcar District Hospital.

Lakambini, in a press conference yesterday, alleged that Mayor Antonio Canoy’s group was behind the shooting incident.

The mayor was reportedly resting and could not grant requests for an interview.

“Nagpromote lagi ta ug daang matuwid (We’re supposed to be promoting the straight and narrow road) but look at what their party is doing to us,” Lakambini said.

Vehicle

Senior Insp. Gerard Ace Pelare, San Fernando police chief, said he asked an investigator and a squad of the Regional Mobile Group (RMG) to investigate.

He confirmed they found the abandoned vehicle, but no other traces of gunfire.

Still in San Fernando, a man was wounded after armed men fired at him and his companion in Sitio Lower Matin-aw, Barangay Tonggo around 8 p.m. last Sunday.

Ronnie Generalao, 26, sustained a gunshot wound on his left hand after six unidentified men armed attacked him.

Generalao was on a motorcycle with Michael Villariasa when armed, masked men stopped them. One of the men then fired and hit Generalao.

Before they fled, the men allegedly asked Generalao and Villariasa to remove their shirts and prove they were not armed.

In Bogo, Mayor Celestino Marinez Jr. congratulated the police for keeping the election orderly. He voted in the same precinct as his opponent, Marie Daphne Salimbangon, in Bogo Central School 1.

Long lines

Tempers rose in places, but nothing more serious happened.

In Barangay Gairan, the voters began a shouting match when some voters were given priority numbers, which was not supposed to be done. In Barangay Nailon, the voters argued because of the long line.

In Barangay Banban, election officer Michael Sarno said there was one Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machine that delayed the voting, because it acted up.

But it was fixed.

Bogo City Police Chief Anthony Bagarinao said they did not have to respond to any election-related incident as of last night.

Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Patrocinio Comendador said they have not received any allegations of vote-buying in the fourth district.

Road mishap

But some voters didn’t even make it to the long lines the rest complained about.

At 7 a.m., a vehicular accident killed an 80-year-old man and injured 17 other persons
in Sitio Guso, Barangay Taba-ao, Tabogon.

SPO4 Douglas Amores identified the fatality as Gonzalo Esver. He said the group had shared a pick-up truck driven by Francisco Hortelano and were on their way to vote.

They were heading for a precinct some four kilometers from the national highway.

“They were just hitching a ride,” said the deputy police chief in a phone interview. (JKV/KAL)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 15, 2013.

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