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Batangas school torched, teacher, watcher killed

May 15, 2007 9:57am

Tags: Batangas
(Update) A teacher and a poll watcher died in the line of duty, while at least 10 others were injured after armed men barged into a school in Batangas province and torched ballot boxes there before dawn Tuesday.

Radio DZRH cited initial police reports Tuesday morning identifying the fatalities as Nellie Banaag and poll watcher Leslie Ramos.

Confined at the Batangas Regional Hospital were Lisa Ramos, Judy Maderazo, Sonny Villena, Teodoro Samar, and Ichiban Samar. Brought to the N.L. Villa Hospital were Maritess and Jimmy Malaluan.

The report said at least two of the victims were to be transferred to a Manila hospital due to the extent of their injuries, but did not identify them.

The fire destroyed five classrooms in the Pinagbayanan Elementary School in Pinagbayanan village in Taysan town in Batangas.

"Kanina lalabas ako ng presinto nakita ko papasok sa precinct namin. May dalang dalawang 1.5-liter bote ng soft drinks, akala ko soft drinks. Pagtalikod ko nakita ko binubuhos sa ballot box, biglang nag-apoy. Tapos may pumutok, tumakbo na ako (I was going out of the precinct when I saw the men enter with two 1.5-liter soft drink bottles. I thought they were just bringing in refreshments. From the corner of my eye I saw them pour the contents on the ballot boxes, which suddenly caught fire. I heard an explosion and then ran)," witness Jimmy Arias said in an interview on DZXL radio Tuesday morning.

Police recovered shells from M-16 rifles near the scene of the fire. They have sealed the area and taken custody of the ballot boxes for the moment.

Radio DZRH said at least five armed men barged into the school while the teachers, who had just finished counting, were about to place the election returns inside the ballot boxes.

Initial reports indicated the bodies of the two fatalities were found in the school's comfort room. It was not immediately clear if the two teachers were taking a break or ran to the comfort room to flee from the armed men.

Police Insp. Nicasio Monica said they managed to save the election returns, which he said had not yet been placed inside the burned ballot boxes.

Monica insisted the situation was "under control," adding firefighters who responded to the fire did not damage the election materials.

"May nasalba (We managed to save some of the documents)," he said.

Taysan is a fourth-class town with a population of 29,836 people in 5,823 households. - GMANews.TV
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Tags: Batangas