Masked men alarm residents in Cebu City’s mountain barangays, ‘inks’ voters before May 13 elections
CEBU CITY, Philippines — Cebu City voters in barangays Tabunan, Babag, Talamban, Pungol-Sibugay and Mabini are alarmed of the presence of armed men onboard motorcycles who are reportedly going around the villages to “ink” voters a day before the May 13, 2019 elections.
CDN Digital received report from a campaign leader of the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) party that at least 15 masked men onboard motorcycles are going around Barangay Tabunan carrying long guns.
The campaign leader is currently hiding at the moment for security reasons.
As of 10 p.m. on May 12, more masked men reportedly arrived in Barangay Tabunan sowing fear among village residents and BO-PK supporters.
The campaign leader said many of these residents are now afraid of going out of their homes.
The campaign leader said they are asking the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to check their area with the help of the military to secure their barangays from the “goons.”
“Patabang lang gyod mi diri. Palihog lang. (We are asking for help here. Please),” the campaign leader told CDN Digital in a phone interview.
In Barangay Babag, Cebu City, a councilor who refused to be named, told CDN Digital that they noticed 10 men wearing bonnets and black shirts with the words “Walay Kulba” around 7 p.m. passing outside his house several times.
The councilor, who is allied with BO-PK, said two barangay councilors are already in hiding.
During the phone interview, the councilor said they are choosing to stay home until daylight for fear of being killed or taken away by the masked men.
The Babag councilor said they heard reports from fellow residents that these men are applying electoral or indelible ink on the forefingers of voters so they will not be able to vote on Monday, May 13.
The councilor expressed fear that the masked men will force themselves in the homes of the residents so they can “ink” more people. Reports also said that the ink the masked men used in the neighbouring barangay of Pung-ol Sibugay can be removed by acetone.
However, the councilor said the presence of the “indelible ink” on their fingers may be the reason why the election board will disallow them from casting their votes.
Meanwhile, a woman in Barangay Bonbon, Cebu City sent to the media an image of a sheet of white paper bearing the words: “Sa tanang tao dinhing dapita, mahimo ayaw nalang mo ug botar. You are identified.”
(To all the people in the place, do not vote. You are identified.)
She said similar paper announcements are posted all over the barangay.
Because of this, the residents are now scared to cast their votes.
Village chiefs and other voters of Mabini and Sudlon II are staying inside their respective barangays halls as they are said to be guarded by policemen.
In Barangay Sudlon II, an official said the people are playing basketball and volleyball to pass the time in the barangay hall grounds while in Barangay Mabini, the officials said they will remain in the barangay hall but will not be cowed from casting their votes tomorrow.
Around 9 p.m. Mayor Tomas Osmeña posted on his Facebook page that a convoy of police patrol cars passed by his house multiple times.
“Col. Garma, if you’re going to parade your Michael Dino-style convoy past my house at 10 p.m. again tonight (2 times in 3 mins), please drop by and say hi. We have sandwiches if Sinas won’t relieve you for accepting them,” said Osmeña.
Meanwhile, a group of parishioners in Barangay Sudlon I are conducting a prayer vigil for a peaceful elections.
According to the Archdiocese of Cebu, the vigil is a non-partisan gathering to advocate for non-violence and safety for all. / celr
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