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4 dead, 5 wounded in election violence

Four persons, including a mayoral candidate, were killed while five others were wounded in separate incidents two days before the May 9 synchronized elections.

The first incident occurred in Bukidnon where a mayoral candidate identified as Armando Ceballes was shot by armed men at around 12:30 a.m. yesterday in Barangay Balila, Lantapan.

Supt. Surki Serenas, spokesman, Northern Mindanao police, said the victim was rushed to the Polymedic Hospital in Malaybalay City but eventually died due to his bullet wounds.

The gunmen reportedly used M16 and M14 rifles in the attack, based on the spent shells recovered from the crime scene.

In Jones, Isabela, three persons died while four others were wounded when armed men ambushed a convoy of supporters of mayoral bet Vice Mayor Melanie Uy.

Major Gina Daet, public affairs officer, Armed Forces of the Philippines-Northern Luzon Command, said the ambush occurred on the highway in Barangay Namnama, Jones, at around 7:40 a.m. yesterday.

A report from the Isabela police said Uy’s group, together with her sister, Barangay Chairman Esperanza Rhoda Anunciacion, who is running for councilor, were on their way to campaign in Barangay Namnama when they were fired upon by unidentified armed men.

Three people, identified as Arthur Anunciacion, 54; Lydia Zapata, 52; and Roderick Eugenio, driver, were killed in the attack, according to a report by Senior Supt. Leon DG Rafael of the Isabela police office.

Wounded were Esperanza Rhoda Anunciacion, 45; Reignzel Art Anunciacion, 12; Julius Julian, 27; and Samuel Bulusan, 39, farmer.

Personnel of the Jones police station immediately conducted a checkpoint in Barangay Diarao and San Isidro in Jones in an effort to intercept and arrest and suspects.

Daet said troops from Alpha Company, 86th Infantry Battalion were deployed to reinforce government forces in the area.

While on their way to the ambush site at around 10:45 a.m., the soldiers were fired upon by the same group of armed men that staged the attack against Uy’s supporters. This triggered an encounter, and as of noon, Daet said pursuit operation was still ongoing.

She said no reports of casualties or wounded from the government side have been reported as of press time.

Daet said Nolcom chief Lt. Gen. Romeo Tanalgo personally visited the different provinces under his area of command, including Abra, which is among those considered as an election hot spot.

Tanalgo’s visit aimed to ensure security preparations of the different field units of the AFP Nolcom.

Aside from Abra, others areas under Nolcom considered as election hot spots are Jones, Isabela; Kalinga, and some parts of Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte.

In Negros Occidental, a security of a local official in Isabela was wounded in an attack by unidentified armed men.

Reports reaching the AFP national election monitoring center in Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City showed the incident transpired at around 9:45 a.m.

The AFP Southern Luzon Command reported four successive explosions that occurred near Divisoria Elementary School in Cataingan, Masbate at around 9:30 a.m. last Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Angelo Guzman, Solcom public affairs officer, said the incident was reported by Barangay Chairman Junrey Alcaraz.

Initial investigation conducted by the Cataingan police showed that two of the explosions happened at 50 meters and other 150 meters from the school where vote counting machines and other election paraphernalia are stored.

No casualty or damage to property was recorded. The VCM and other election paraphernalia were intact and secured, Guzman said.

Following the incident, the AFP Solcom has directed all its troops to be more vigilant and to ensure that the periphery of voting centers are clear of improvised bombs for the safety of all voters and board of election inspectors.

Reports reaching the AFP monitoring center showed that at 12:30 a.m. yesterday, the house of a barangay chairman in Sampoli-B, Diplahan, Zamboanga Sibugay was fired upon by armed men on board three vehicles. Nobody was reported killed or injured in the incident.

In Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, a hand grenade was lobbed at the billeting area for military and police personnel in the vicinity of the Simuay Elementary School. Troops have been alerted following the incident.

The military has almost completed the delivery of election equipment with the exception of Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, and Bukidnon.

“We will continue our operations to ensure that the people will have a safe and secure environment as they exercise their rights to vote this coming Monday,” said Col. (ELENA L. ABEN)