TACLOBAN CITY-The Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional office here will probe the burning of vote counting machines in the remote town of Matuguinao, Samar late Monday afternoon.

Comelec Eastern Visayas Regional Director Dennis Ausan said an armed group supporting a mayoralty bet reportedly burned a vote counting machine.

The machine was used for scanning of ballots of 300 voters in a clustered precinct in Nagpapacao village in Matuguinao town.

“Voting was already done before the incident, but we are not sure if the board of election inspectors managed to transmit the data and if the shaded ballots are secured,” Ausan said.

The regional office will submit the report to the Comelec en banc who will determine if there’s a need to declare a failure of election. The poll body will also find out if the 300 votes will affect the result of the elections.

Nobody was hurt during the burning incident, according to Comelec.

The police tagged Matuguinao town as election hotspots due to election-related violence in the past polls.

Mayor Melissa Dela Cruz of said town hinted that this was done by private armies. According to her, far-flung Diit and Mahalod villages were likely being “terrorized and threatened” by armed groups, prompting families to flee to safer grounds.

Meanwhile, the Samar provincial board of canvassers has started its canvassing Tuesday at the provincial capitol after the Comelec decided on Monday night to delay the process due to difficulty in data transmission.

Aside from weak signal, other concerns noted on Election Day are malfunctions of vote counting machines, confusion on the voters’ list, and rampant vote buying. PNA

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