Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Smooth polls noted in Bulacan

MALOLOS CITY—Despite tensions and reported malfunction of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, elections in Bulacan went generally peaceful, officials said.

Lawyer Elmo Duque, provincial election supervisor in Bulacan, expressed gratitude to the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for maintaining peace and order in the province.

He said that the PNP and the AFP did a good job in pre-empting the arrest of suspected armed groups in the province that could have sowed terror and fear to voters during elections.

“Everything went very smooth and very peaceful,” Duque said in an interview yesterday. He added there was no report of any harassment of local voters.

The same was echoed by Gov. Wilhelmino Alvarado who, after casting his vote, said that tension was replaced by peoples hope for change.

“By Philippine standards, our elections in Bulacan are generally peaceful,” Alvarado said.

He stressed that the PNP and the AFP did their homework in disbanding suspected armed groups in the province that resulted in the arrest of 11 suspected New People’s Army Rebels on May 3 followed by the arrest of six additional armed men who are suspected to be members of a private army on May 10.

Alvarado said there were tensions among opposing parties in the province at the close of the campaign period.

However, he said that all went silent when the voting began on Monday.

He specifically cited tense situations in San Rafael, San Miguel and Donya Remedios town.

With regards to tension in Malolos City hours before the elections, the governor said that it stemmed from the intent of both groups to keep the elections clean.

“They guarded each other on the allegations that both camps were planning to conduct vote buying,” he said, referring to the camps of incumbent Mayor Christian Natividad and former Mayor Danilo Domingo of this city.

The Malolos incident late Sunday night occurred when Natividad’s supporters massed near the headquarters of Domingo. They complained that Domingo’s men were casing Natividad’s headquarters.

But Domingo said they were only monitoring the situation in response to reports that vehicles with loads of people were coming to and from Natividad’s headquarters.

With regards to incident of vote-buying in the province, Duque said that the PNP is still investigating incidents.

He said that one of the closest incidents was the seizure of about a million pesos in cash in Norzagaray town.

Police said that the seized cash was meant to be used in buying votes. Dino Balabo