Cheating, intimidation cap polls in South

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BY AL JACINTO Correspondent

SULU: Accusations of massive cheating, fraud and vote-buying capped Monday’s general elections in the southern Philippine province of Sulu.

Journalists covering the country’s first automated elections were also harassed in the village of Kulasi in Maimbung town where thousands of Badjao tribesmen who cannot read nor write cast their votes.

Supporters of the local mayor, who is seeking reelection, prevented one television journalist from taking video and photos of the exercise inside polling precincts for a still unknown reason.

Many natives said they were paid up to P1,000 in exchange for their votes. And a huge number of those who cast their votes were minors and without election papers. Elections in the town were marred with massive cheating, fraud and vote-buying.

Last hour elections were disrupted by clashes between poll watchers of opposing candidates, after poll inspectors allowed minors to vote. Police fired warning shots to prevent the escalation of violence.

Many voters in the village just washed off their ink markings on their fingers and voted several times in different polling precincts.

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