But authorities said despite the violent election-related incidents, the conduct of the computerized elections in the Muslim-dominated autonomous region is generally peaceful and order compared to past elections.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared a failure of elections in two villages in Sumisip town, Basilan after a ballot snatching in barangays Tumahubong and Baiwas before the voting started in the said areas.
Comelec officials confirmed that unidentified men snatched the ballot boxes from election officers while on their way to the voting precincts.
Barangays Tumahubong and Baiwas have a total of 1,896 registered voters. The ballot snatching is one of the two election incidents reported in the autonomous region. Comelec reported a second case of ballot snatching also occurred in Shariff Kabunsuan.
The report also said authorities were able to recover the three ballot boxes snatched by an armed group, allowing election officers in the area to push through with the elections.
The ARMM comprises the cities of Marawi and isabela and the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Tawi-Tawi and Shariff Kabunsuan with more than 1.5 million registered voters.
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) opposed to its political exercises, warning voters not to participate in Monday’s first ever automated elections as it will only divide more the already fragmented Bangsamoro communities in the region.
Police and military accused the MILF for preventing residents in barangay Baas in Lamitan City from voting. They showed to media photos with anti-ARMM polls markings allegedly by the Moro rebels.
In a related incident, armed men believed MILF rebels bombed a bridge in Tipo-Tipo town, Basilan apparently to prevent voters in the area to go to polling precincts. Marines rushed to the area and a firefight ensued resulting to one soldier killed and four others wounded.
Sources from Western Mindanao Command headquarters disclosed the casualties were airlifted by two helicopters to a military hospital at Camp Navarro in Upper Calarian, Zamboanga City.
Tipo-Tipo local officials confirmed to journalists that at least 300 MILF members allegedly overran the municipality, resulting the death of two civilians and injuring some others. Three policemen went missing after the attack.