• Vote buying, VCM defects mar elections

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    Reports of shooting incidents, massive vote buying, vote counting machine (VCM) and power failure marred the conduct of synchronized elections in the province of Nueva Ecija and the Bicol Region.

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    In San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, a clash between supporters of two mayoral candidates ensued, and one person was reported hurt.

    Police said Mauricio Garcia, a supporter of Amerigus Nagaño, a mayoralty candidate in the town, sustained a minor gunshot wound in the head.

    Authorities said it was the sixth election-related violent incident recorded in the province.
    The mayoralty seat in contested by Nagaño, his relative Froilan Nagaño and Rodolfo Cuartero.

    On Sunday, a one-month-old baby carried by a mother from Barangay San Nicolas in Gapan City was confirmed dead during a commotion reportedly caused by hundreds of city residents who trooped to the compound of the late Rep. Nicanor de Guzman Jr. in Barangay San Vicente. They were allegedly about to be given P2,000 each to vote for reelectionist mayor Maricel Natividad-Nagaño.

    Police Provincial Director, Supt. Manuel Cornel, ordered the Gapan police chief to disperse the people who reportedly got unruly trying to outdo each other for the cash.

    In Barangay Kapitan Pepe in Cabanatuan City, voters on Sunday also rushed to the village hall for their alleged P500 cash for presidential candidate Jejomar Binay’s vote.

    In the Bicol Region, vote buying was employed by almost all political camps to ensure the winnability of their political allies in the national and local positions.

    Reelectionist congressman Fernando Gonzalez (3rd District) said that only in this 2016 elections was the exercise marred by vote buying in the countryside.

    In Albay province, some reelectionist mayors are banking on Mayor Cherilie Mella Sampal of Polangui.

    Sampal joined the LP rally along with the 3rd district mayors when President Benigno Aquino 2nd visited Ligao City recently. After the LP rally in Ligao City, Sampal also joined the Team Joey miting de avance in Polangui, where vote buying for the presidential post was earlier reported.

    Free rides, food, and vote buying were also noted in the first district of Albay, where a three-cornered fight for the congressional race involved returning Edcel Lagman, (LP) Antonio Betito, (NPC) and Ted Contacto (PDP-Laban).

    But the toughest race is between Lagman and Betito.

    In Catanduanes, voters collected from P5,000 to nearly P10,000 each, according to resident Juana Consuelo. She said they are 18 voters in the family, and have generated about P90,000 for the 2016 polls.

    On the eve of May 9, Ramil Soliveres of Catanduanes, a local journalist said that vote buying is massive, and voters could amass as much as P10,000 from rival candidates.

    In Masbate province, violence, political harassment and vote buying have been reported on the day of the elections, the Philippine National Police PNP in Bicol said.

    Shooting incidents were reported in the towns of Milagros and San Pascual, while in Cataingan town, members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) of Tugbo village requested for police assistance following threats against poll watchers because of intense political rivalry.

    PNP regional spokesperson Malu Calubaquib, said massive malfunction of vote counting machines (VCMs) throughout the Bicol region has been reported.

    Aside from VCM malfunctions, power failures also took place in some areas of Albay, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. The NCGP earlier assured the public that no power failure will occur on election day.

    But as of press time power failure was taking place across the region.

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