Quenery: Elections ‘generally peaceful’

By: Futch Anthony Inso, Nestle L. Semilla, Rosalie O. Abatayo May 14,2018 - 11:06 PM

THE top police authority in Central Visayas yesterday declared that the conduct of yesterday’s barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections was generally peaceful, with isolated cases of violence happening across Metro Cebu on election day.

Chief Supt. Robert Quenery, however, said they would continue to monitor the polling precinct especially during the manual counting of ballots.

Contrary to expectations that Tuburan town will be a problem area on election day, the town remained peaceful all throughout the election day.

Supt. Melbert Esguera, Tuburan Police Station chief, said there were reports of sighting of armed men but all turned out negative when validated.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) and the region’s Commission on Elections (Comelec-7) earlier declared six of the 54 barangays in Tuburan as Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs) due to intense political rivalries, sightings of rebels, and presence of private armed group.

Esguera said they were happy that the situation remained normal although they could not yet lower their guard since anything could still happen during the manual counting of the votes, particularly in the EWAs villages of Monte Alegre, Sumon, Putat, Carmelo, Mag-atubang and Gaang.

Esguera attributed the peaceful conduct of the election in the town to the presence of police and military augmentation forces.

At least 70 police personnel were augmented in Tuburan while about 100 soldiers from Armed Forces of the Philippines-Central Command were deployed in the town.

Esguera said the augmentation force was a big help considering that the town only has 24 police personnel.

Prior to the election, three persons were arrested by the police for illegal possession of firearms, violation of the Comelec gun ban and the liquor ban.

Two village watchers in Barangay Colonia were arrested during a joint operation of Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG) and the Regional
Intelligence Division (RID-7). A relative of Tuburan Mayor Aljon Diamante was also arrested a day before the election for violating the Comelec gun ban and the liquor ban.

Failure of elections

In Lapu-Lapu City, a candidate for barangay captain in Punta Engaño asked the Comelec to declare a failure of elections in the village for possible fraud and the presence of suspicious-looking men in the area on Monday.

Diosaminda Hayashi, who assumed as village chief of Punta Engaño just three weeks before the barangay elections, questioned the extra ballot box found under the table of a classroom precinct at the Punta Engaño Elementary School on election day.

“There’s possible fraud here,” she said in an interview.

Milagros Flores, supporter of Hayashi, discovered the extra ballot box in cluster precinct no. 442.

Petalcorin, however, advised Hayashi to make formal her complaints so that the poll body could act on it.

“We just could not declare a failure of elections unless not one voter is able to vote,” he said.

Lenie Mendoza, chairperson of the board of canvassers, had explained that the extra ballot box placed beneath the table would be used in the canvassing of the votes.

Earlier, Hayashi was declared the winner of the 2013 barangay election by the Comelec. She earlier contested the results of the past election and was successful in unseating then Barangay Captain Lourdes Ibag.

Aside from the questionable ballot, Hayashi also complained about the presence of at least 12 motorcycle-riding men who arrived in Punta Engaño at around 2 p.m. on Monday. Residents in the village immediately notified the local police about it for fear that these men were goons.

But PO3 Edward Sobrio of the Punta Engaño police said that the motorcycle-riding men told them that they were actually motorcycle-for-hire drivers from Consolacion who went to Lapu-Lapu City when they received a text message from someone in the barangay promising a fee of P1,000 each for a still unspecified driving task.

However, when they arrived in the village, the motorcycle drivers were not able to meet with the person who texted them since they were met by the police who were informed by the residents. The drivers returned to Consolacion after 30 minutes.

Ambush

In another incident, the businessman-father of a candidate for a barangay post in Lapu-Lapu City was shot and wounded by an unidentified assailant along Lopez Jaena Street, Barangay Poblacion, past 2 a.m. on Monday.

SPO3 Candido Barinque, desk officer of the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office, said the victim, Eduardo Godornez, 69, was about to disembark from his Toyota Fortuner when a gunman repeatedly fired shots at him, hitting him in the abdomen, shoulder and leg.

Godornez’ son James is an incumbent barangay councilor of Poblacion who is seeking reelection.

Barinque said they were still investigating if the shooting was election-related, although he said it was also possible that it also had something to do with the businesses operated by Godornez.

Strafing incident

In Dumanjug town in southwest Cebu, an unidentified suspect strafed the house of incumbent Bulak Barangay Captain Reynaldo Albios past 1 a.m. on Monday.

The steel gate of the house and the village chief’s vehicle were hit by the bullets. Police recovered one empty shell of a 9mm pistol and three pieces of deformed slugs.

No one was, however, hurt in the incident. /WITH NORMAN MeNDOZA, FE MARIE DUMABOC, BENJIE TALISIC AND PIT INTERN MARTHY LUBIANO

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