May 10 polls generally peaceful in Mindanao regions
by Mike U. Crismundo
Butuan City (May 10) -- The whole morning of the country’s historic and first automated May 10, 2010 polls is generally peaceful, top regional police and military officials reported.
In their separate statements, Maj. Gen. Romeo Chan, commanding general of the Army’s Northeastern and Northern Mindanao Fourth Infantry (Diamond) Division; Chief Supt. Lino D. Calingasan, regional director of Police Regional Office 13 (PRO 13) and Chief Supt. Conrado Laza, regional director of PRO 10, announced that no untoward incidents happened since the start of voting at 7 o’clock in the morning up to noon time of that same day.
"Everything is normal and thank God that no untoward incident happened up to this time (12 noon)," they said in unison during separate phone interviews.
They also said that heavy turn out was reported since 7 o’clock in the morning despite some scattered rains that occurred in various provinces and cities in Northeastern and Northern Mindanao regions.
Only Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur in Northeastern Mindanao and nearby areas reportedly have low turnout due to heavy downpour for the past eight hours starting Monday dawn.
Heavy downpour prevented some voters from going to the polling precincts in these reported provinces Monday morning.
Police and the military also said there are some minor problems reported in some polling places. Some problems encountered are PCOS machines not responding and rejected the ballots cast by the voters, paper jam, over shedding and excess number of candidates shed by voters, missing names of voters in some precincts and some voters are wet due to the heavy downpour.
Some of the precincts where PCOS machines malfunctioned happened at Agusan Pequino, Baan Riverside, Villa Kanangga and G.T. Domingo, all of Butuan City and Santiago Elementary School in Santiago, Agusan del Norte.
However, the temporary delay of the malfunction of these PCOS machines were immediately addressed by the board of election inspectors (BEIs) of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and technical men deployed by the Smartmatic in various polling precincts at various places in the two regions.
"I’m happy to tell you that everything is going normal and above all our peace and order situation is also normal up to noontime," said Chief Supt. Calingasan.
On the other hand, Chief Supt. Laza also reported that the manhandling incident of two block timers of TV-Channel 13 based in Cagayan de Oro by a candidate in Catarman, Camiguin province, is already investigated by the Camiguin provincial police office.
Meanwhile, vote-buying of certain candidates was also reported since Sunday night and early Monday morning ranging from P500 up to P1,000 per voter.
Chief Supt. Calingasan said this alleged information is currently being thoroughly looked into by the Comelec and Butuan City Police Office.
On the other hand, the Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division, through its spokesman Capt. Emmanuel R. Garcia, also reported that no untoward incident happened since 7 o’clock in the morning up to noon time in Southern Mindanao.
"Everything runs smoothly, no untoward incident reported up to this time and our troops are on stand by," said Capt. Garcia.
In a related development, due to heavy downpour that caused slow voting process at various places in the Caraga region, Region 13 Comelec Regional Director Francisco Pobe assured voters that casting of vote will continue even after 6 p.m. especially those who are already 30 meters away from the perimeter line to the polling precinct. (PNA) [top]