Shots fired near Lanao Sur polling centers

Posted at 11/13/10 3:38 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Two persons, including a municipal councilor, were hurt in a gunfight between two political groups in one of the towns in Lanao del Sur, where special elections were held Saturday.

The Philippine National Police said in its situation update on the special elections in the province that Malik Amirul, councilor of Calanogas municipality, was hurt in a clash that took place around 8:40 a.m..

A relative of Amirul identified as June Benito Amirul was also hurt. It said that a barangay chairman from Marantao town and another group were involved in the gunfight.

The gunfight was followed by gunshots that lasted for nearly an hour in Lumbatan town. It said the gunshots were heard around 9:50 a.m. and lasted until 10:25 a.m..

The shooting happened more or less 200 to 300 meters away from the polling centers.

Calanogas, Marantao and Lumbatan were among the 8 municipalities in Lanao del Sur, where special elections were held on Saturday.

The 5 other municipalities were Buadiposo-Buntong, Kapai, Ganassi, Pagayawan and Tugaya.

Elections in these areas last May 10 were suspended by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) due to violence.

Positions being contested in the special elections start from congressman down to the municipal level.

Special elections were also held in some areas in Bulacan and Basilan provinces.

Police and military officials in Lanao del Sur were confident that the special elections will be generally peaceful.

Brig. Gen. Rey Ardo, commander of the Philippine Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, said security teams were provided for each candidate to discourage them from carrying out plans against their opponents.

Aside from providing security, policemen acted as Board of Election Inspectors.

Months before the special elections, policemen were trained by the Commission on Elections on how to operate Precinct Count Optical Scan voting machines, which were also used in the May 10 elections. – Reports from Noel Alamar, radio dzMM and Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN Iligan