CEBU CITY-Despite some glitches, the election precincts here had opened as scheduled at 6AM. In Mambaling, iNewsPh, observed the unoperability of the Voter Registration Verification Machines (VRMV) prompting the conduct of manual verification for registered voters. That means the teachers who acted as election tellers will have to verify the names of voters in the printed official list before they can be given their official ballots.
Manoy Alberto, a senior citizen who queued as early as 5:45AM is happy however that he voted first when his precinct in Mambaling Elementary School opened as scheduled. “Nindot ra man Sir, hapsay ra man kay nakabotar man ko dayun,” he told iNews.ph.
He was not accompanied by an assistor because he could still see and write legibly. According to him, he shaded for the names of 24 candidates, 12 Senators, 1 Congressman, 1 Mayor, 1 Vice Mayor, 8 councilors and 1party list. The polling precincts will close at 6PM per the Comelec regulation.
Mayor Tomas Osmena is facing Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella for Cebu City mayoral post. Prior to the start of voting, there were reports of the presence of armed men in the mountain barangays. In Talamban, Barangay Councilor Pepito Asignar claimed that armed men whom he described as “Tagalog speaking” were looking for him in his house in Sitio V-One.
They arrived in two vehicles past 8pm. Jose Borces of Barangay San Jose also claimed that a separate group of armed men harassed him. A gun poked at him as they look for his son Seigfred, a campaign coordinator of Osmena’s Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK).
At past 2AM, in Sitio Cabatbatan in Barangay Pamutan, Atty. Dandel Rose Villacastin along with her team were threatened by a group of separate gunmen. Villcastin is a member of the BOPK legal team who was on their way to deliver watcher paraphernalia. A motorcycle group called “Way Kulba” first blocked their path suspicion that they were bringing along sums of money.
They were forced to hand-in the key of their vehicle as the gunmen allegedly brought high powered firearms, Villacastin told reporters. “We really could not do anything. Even if I begged them that I will answer the call nature, they asked me not to because they will have to inspect first our vehicle. When they found nothing, that was the time that they let go of us, return our cellphone and the car key,” the lawyer said in a mix of English and Cebuano.
For Asignar, also a BOPK supporter, his experience was the worst since he started joining politics in the 1980s. “Mao gyud ni karung tuiga ang pinaka-hugaw,” he said. His family evacuated to the barangay hall where reporters met him. In Barangay Paril, the “Way Kulba” riders were also spotted along with the members of the PNP City Mobile Force Company (CMFC).