Standoff mars Datu Unsay barangay polls

By Jorge Cariño, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2010 05:32 PM | Updated as of Oct 27 2010 01:32 AM

DATU UNSAY, Maguindanao – A standoff still prevails in the municipal compound of this town as protesters prevented local authorities from distributing election paraphernalia for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections for this municipality.

Kamarudin Ibrahim, who leads the group, said they will continue to barricade until authorities address their grievances.

“Kahit abutin kami dito ng sampung tao, hindi kami aalis dito,” said Ibrahim in the middle of a 200-strong crowd.

The protest started on Monday as candidates complained that they were deleted from the official list of candidates in 8 barangays of Datu Unsay town. Allegedly, the former election officer of Datu Unsay did not submit their certificate of candidacy to the Commission on Elections.

Bai Haidy Mamalinta, who assumed office as election officer of Datu Unsay a day before the election, said the barricade prevented poll officials from getting ballot boxes inside the municipal treasurer's office.

Despite the barricade, the Philippine Army's 29th Infantry Battllion managed to escort Tuesday morning the members of Board of Election Tellers who will serve in the elections. A total of 138 BET members boarded Army trucks, which were escorted by V-150 tanks and fully armed soldiers and policemen.

Lt. Col. Benedict Arevalo, commander of the 29th Infantry Battalion, said he has a handwritten request from Mamalinta granting him authority to get the election paraphernalia at the municipal compound of Datu Unsay.