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POLL-RELATED VIOLENCE ESCALATES

 

4 dead, 14 hurt in separate incidents
By AARON RECUENCO

Two days before Filipinos troop to the polling places, violence escalated across the country, leaving at least four dead and 14 wounded, according to reports reaching the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Two persons, including a sixyear-old daughter of mayoralty candidate Mulsini Abdurajik, were killed Friday night in Bataraza, a first-class municipality located on the southernmost tip of Palawan.

Senior Superintendent Atanacio Macalan, director of the Palawan police, said gunmen strafed the vehicle loaded with supporters of Abdurajik who is running against the wife of outgoing town mayor Abraham Ibba.

Macalan said they have arrested six suspects and are checking if they are supporters of Ibba.

“But based on the initial investigation, it seems nagkaroon ng pikunan dati kaya nangyari yung insidente,“ Macalan said.

He said the victims were on their way home at 11:45 p.m. when a group of armed men waylaid them in Barangay Igang-Igang. Recovered from the scene were spent shells for .45 pistols and M16 rifles.

Macalan said they are verifying reports that three Abdurajik supporters were missing.

Palawan is not included in the 15 high-risk provinces, although some towns are being monitored, according to Macalan.

Two other persons died in separate incidents in Misamis Oriental and Eastern Samar.

Fighting broke out between government forces and suspected members of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Gingoog City, about 122 kilometers east of Cagayan de Oro City.

At least one rebel was killed and three soldiers wounded, according to Chief Superintendent Catalino Rodriguez, director of the Northern Mindanao regional police.

Rodriguez said the rebels could be the same group that ambushed the convoy of Gingoog City Mayor Ruthie Guingona last month that left two civilian escorts dead.

Rodriguez said members of the Scene of the Crime Operatives sought the assistance of the Marine Battalion Landing Team 3 while responding to a report of killing in Barangay Libertad.

The responding soldiers were fired upon at 7 a.m. in Barangay Lawit.

After 10-minute gunfight, the rebels retreated, leaving one companion dead.

Misamis Oriental has been placed in the list of immediate concern following the ambush of Guingona’s convoy last month.

In Borongan City, four gunmen attacked a voting center in Barangay Caingatngan at dawn yesterday, killing a rookie policeman and wounding a village watchman.

Chief Suprintendent Elmer Soria, director of the Eastern Visayas regional police, said the gunmen also took the service firearm and uniform of victim PO1 Agerico Afable was injured while guarding a voting center at dawn yesterday.

Afable died on the spot while companion Glecerio Gema was rushed to the hospital for treatment.

Ronnie Basana, another watchman, pretended to be dead and was left unharmed.

The Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were left untouched, according to Soria.

In Sorsogon City, a police major and three of his men were wounded following an ambush by unidentified men, according to Superintendent Renato Bataller, spokesman of the Bicol regional police.

Bataller said the attack occurred while the cops were on their way back to police station after conducting a routine security patrol.

“The security patrol is part of our measures here to protect the election paraphernalia that have already been delivered and to ensure that there is no immediate threat from any armed group on Monday, the election day,“ said Bataller in a phone interview.

He identified three of the wounded cops as Chief Insp. Juancho Ibis, PO2 Nelson Dioquino and PO1 Eric Elquiro.

All the victims are members of the provincial police’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) who have been tapped to augment the regular police forces in the province.

Bataller said the incident happened at around 4:45 p.m. on Friday in Sitio Bato, Bacon District.

“There was a firefight after the ambush and it was during that exchange of gunfire that another policeman was hit,“ said Bataller.

Bataller, however, said that they have yet to determine if the attackers are members of Partisan Armed Group or communist rebels operating in the province.

Despite the attack, he said the election security plan in the province and in the entire region is already in place.

Only the Masbate in Bicol region is included in the list of 17 high-risk provinces being tightly secured by the police and military.

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