DUMAGUETE CITY, Philippines – Additional policemen and agents from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrived on Friday in Basay, 110 kilometers south of this capital city, to deal with rising tensions in the town.
The policemen and NBI agents were sent after one person was found dead and 2 fires of suspicious origin were reported in the town in the past 2 days.
While policemen declined to confirm whether these incidents were directly related to the recently concluded elections, rival candidates and their supporters are accusing each other of being responsible for the incidents.
Man found dead
An hour and half past midnight on Friday, a certain Nelson Balayo, 47, driver of a motorcycle-for-hire and resident of Labogon in Barangay Nagbo-alao, was found dead at the town’s rotunda.
Police said Balayo’s body bore multiple hack and stab wounds.
The victim was reportedly a supporter of Dandilgust Abriu, the mayoralty candidate of Lakas-Kampi-CMD (Lakas).
Lakas dominated the polls in Basay, winning the positions for mayor, vice-mayor and 6 seats in the municipal council. The remaining 2 council seats went to independent candidates.
A pair of fiery warnings
Two fires of suspicious origin occurred in the town on Thursday, a day after losing candidates at the municipal hall claimed irregularities in the post-election proceedings.
At dawn Thursday, witnesses said 3 unidentified men set the home of Gregorio Sapipe on fire in the town proper. Sapipe’s neighbors saw the men and set them scampering away, police said.
Police said Sapipe, one of Abrio’s supporters, was not at the house when the fire occurred. Police added that the house was unoccupied when the fire occurred.
On the same day at 9:30 pm, a fire of still unknown origin destroyed a day care center inside the Utzurrum compound.
Lawyer Riodel Montebon, father of losing Liberal Party (LP) candidate for councilor Jose Manuel Montebon, said the unoccupied building that was gutted was 10 to 15 meters away from his wife’s ancestral home.
Police and fire investigators have yet to determine if arson was the cause of the fire in the day care center.
Ballot box tampering?
Montebon, who represents LP in Basay, said the fire could be a warning to him and his allies after they said they were considering filing an election protest.
He said they have witnesses who reportedly saw ballot boxes being tampered with during the random manual audit.
Provincial Election Supervisor Eddie Aba said he will investigate the allegations of ballot box tampering.
Aba said poll officials are also considering filing charges against outgoing Basay Mayor Beda Cañamaque of the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).
Cañamaque, who lost in the vice mayoralty race, allegedly kicked one of the ballot boxes at the lobby of the municipal hall last Wednesday.
The outgoing mayor, however, denied kicking the ballot box. He said he shoved the ballot box to find out if it had already been opened ahead of the random manual audit.
The ballot box fell open and its contents, official ballots from the clustered precincts of Nagbo-alao, spilled out.
Local police officers believe that with the deployment of additional policemen in the town, the situation is now under control. Report from Dx Lapid, ABS-CBN Central Visayas