ONE of the eight Vote Counting Machines (VCM) with still uncanvassed votes was intentionally burned in one of the towns in the province of Zamboanga del Sur, the police said Thursday.
Police Major Helen Galvez, Police Regional Office-Zamboanga Peninsula information officer, said the fire broke out around 11:10 p.m. Wednesday at the Central Elementary School in the municipality of San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur.
Galvez said the fire was preceded with a grenade explosion near the fire station of San Pablo which diverted the attention of the security forces and poll watchers detailed at the school.
Galvez said it was sudden when a fire broke out in the school particularly at the classroom where eight VCMs with uncanvassed votes due to defective secure digital (SD) cards were kept for safekeeping.
Galvez said the firemen, despite the grenade explosion, managed to respond and put off the fire while the responding policemen led by Police Captain Herminigildo Bajao, Jr., San Pablo police chief, secured the VCMs except for one that was burned.
She said the burnt VCM with 427 uncanvassed ballots was placed near the window of the classroom. It came from the village of Lumbayao, San Pablo.
The eight VCMs were placed in the classroom for safekeeping while waiting for the defective SD cards to be reconfigured to able to able to transmit the election results to the Municipal Board of Canvassers.
Galvez said investigation by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) showed that an unidentified person poured gasoline on the window and set ablaze the classroom.
Reports from the San Pablo election office showed that the town has so far transmitted the votes canvassed from 23 of the 31 clustered precincts representing 74.19 percent as of 4:26 a.m. Thursday. (SunStar Philippines)