Violence, vote-buying mar 2018 Marawi barangay, SK elections

Roxanne Arevalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2018 01:50 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2018 02:59 PM

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MARAWI CITY - A brawl and reports of vote-buying marred the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections here on Saturday, as the polls finally pushed through after a postponement in May. 

In a polling center in Barangay Lumbac Madaya, police had to fire warning shots to break up a fight among supporters of competing candidates. 

Voting was momentarily suspended as authorities addressed the situation and was resumed immediately after those involved were arrested.

A group of election observers called Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms said the incident was nothing compared to past election violence in the area.

"Now, at least we are sure the shots were all coming from the authorities and none from the civilians," an observer said.

A civilian was also, meanwhile, held for questioning after he was found with campaign flyers with P20 bills attached to them. The civilian denied buying votes but has yet to explain to Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officials.

The Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and authorities hope to finish the voting before nightfall as there are no lights inside the polling place.

Elections for areas most affected by last year's siege were held in the Sagonsongan Elementary School, a temporary learning center inside the shelter for internally displaced persons (IDP).

Police and military personnel were deployed at the entrance and exit points of the school, and near the voting centers. 

Marawi is currently under rehabilitation after the five-month siege between state forces and Islamic State-linked terrorists in the area left the city in shambles and thousands of residents displaced.