Synchronized polls generally peaceful, army officers claim

The Eastern Mindanao Command yesterday said the election was generally peaceful in its area of operation despite the alleged violation of the New People’s Army of their self-declared ceasefire when rebels attacked a Cafgu patrol base in Sinacungan, Esperanza town, Agusan del Sur on Monday morning.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, the spokesperson of EastMinCom, said the attack happened around 4 a.m. on Monday which caused the delay of the voting in the said barangay.
In his statement, Brig. Gen. Franco Nemesio Gacal, commander of 402nd Infantry Brigade, said in his report that the exchange of gunfire lasted until 6 a.m. of the same day. The NPA rebels escaped and the electoral exercise proceeded as schedule.
The report further stated that there were no casualties on the government side. During clearing operations, troops were able to recover one M16 rifle and one M203 grenade launcher with an index finger believed to be from an injured rebel.
In a separate incident, Lt. Col. Palmer Parungao, commander of the 66th Infantry Battalion, said that his troops recovered an M16 rifle and an M14 rifle hidden in an arms cache in Barangay Manurigao, New Bataan, Compostela Valley . The discovery came after information came from a concerned citizen in the said Barangay.
Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Madrigal Jr. lauded the efforts of troops to make the election peaceful and, at the same time, slammed the NPA rebels for violating their own ceasefire in Caraga Region.
But the EastMinCom said atrocities were more an exemption rather than the rule in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, which Balagtey attributed to the close coordination of the different stakeholders.
“After we have received the reports from the different Election Monitoring Action Centers (EMAC) in Eastern Mindanao, and that no other incident took place after the elections opened at 7 a.m. on May 14, 2018, majority of the winners were declared on time,” he said.
“Further our election officers, supervisors and inspectors were all safe,” he said.
Around 8, 500 troops were deployed for the synchronized election. The EastMinCom covers four regions in Mindanao including Southern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and a portion of Socsksargen.

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