MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA)– A vote-counting machine (VCM) and ballots intended for voters in two villages of Butig town were snatched by unidentified men on Election Day,
LtCol. Romulus Rabara, commanding officer of the 5th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, said the members of the electoral board were inside a classroom in Bayabao Central Elementary School which serves as the polling precinct for Ragayan village when the empty ballots and VCM were taken.
He said EBs were unharmed and were able to secure the sim cards of the VCM before it was taken away.
The poll body has yet to disclose how many ballots were stolen from the election precinct but the village has 798 registered voters.
A similar incident of ballot snatching also transpired in Butig National High School. These ballots were intended for the barangay of Sigayan.
“Pinasok ng mga taong di kilala and we are still trying to track their whereabouts. They forcibly entered the classroom na designated sa barangay na yun and one was carrying a baseball bat na pinukpok niya dun sa lamesa ng EB. So what the EB did was to physically hold yung VCM machine niya, and eventually, they were able to take the ballots,” he said.
[Unknown people entered and we are still trying to track their whereabouts. They forcibly entered the classroom designated for that barangay and one was carrying a baseball bat that he used to hit the EB’s table. So what the EB did was to physically hold his VCM machine, and eventually, they were able to take the ballots.]
Rabara said the ballots were returned afterward but the majority were already shaded.
The Provincial Election Supervisor was already informed about these incidents and physically visited the polling centers to verify and investigate the situation.
Meanwhile, the members of the EB for the said precinct who were afraid of their safety after the incident were escorted by security troops to a safe place and later on transported to the Butig Municipal Police Station. (APB/PIA Lanao del Sur)
Items left at one of the polling precincts in Bayabao Central School in Butig after unidentified men took away the VCM and ballots intended for Barangay Ragayan. (APB/PIA Lanao del Sur)