Residents of Tubaran town in Lanao del Sur province held a prayer rally on Friday, May 20, ahead of the special elections on Tuesday, May 24.
“I prayed that my fellow residents here can cast their votes fairly because it is their right,” said Sultan Abubakar Kibab, a resident of Tubaran who was able to cast his vote on May 9.
The Commission on Elections is holding special elections in 14 villages across three towns in Lanao del Sur province after the poll body declared a failure of election in the area on May 11.
“I prayed they can vote safely. I prayed that there will be no violence during the special elections,” said Kibab.
At least 12 of the 21 barangays in the town, with more than 6,000 registered voters, are yet to cast their votes.
Supporters of incumbent mayor Yassin Papandayan, meanwhile, formed a barricade outside the office of the Commission of Elections to prevent the transport of election paraphernalia and to protest the “reclustering” of polling precincts from three voting centers to four.
Mauyag Papandayan, municipal administrator and father of Yassin, said they are protesting the “reclustering” because it was not approved by the poll body en banc, and the polling precincts were reassigned to areas where their supporters have existing family feuds.
“The reclustering is illegal,” said Papandayan. “It is impossible for our supporters to go to those places and cast their votes because of the feud. It is not safe for them,” he said.
The Army’s 51st Infantry Battalion have already deployed troops to provide security in the area.
Brig. Gen. Jose Maria Cuerpo, commander of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade, said the troops were sent to “to help substantially the Philippine National Police who are in the area doing their mission.”
Trained police personnel will serve as electoral board members during the process of the elections.