Pockets of violence mar barangay elections-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- Village elections across the Philippines were relatively peaceful Monday, but voting in some rural areas was marred by violence, including killings, shootouts and the burning of a voting center, officials said.
Troops and police went on full security alert to avert more violence after 22 candidates and supporters died in pre-election violence, mostly shootouts, over the past month.
Fifteen people were killed in village election violence in 2010 and 57 died in the 2007 elections, police said.
In the latest violence, the husband of a candidate for village chairman was shot and killed Monday by suspected political rivals in Jaro town in central Leyte province. A supporter of another village candidate was killed during a rowdy confrontation with army troops in Agusan del Sur province, according to police.
In Basilan, a village official was also shot dead before he could cast his vote Monday, said Basilan Police Director Mario Dapillosa. [Read the full story.]
(Photos taken in Cebu City)
In Maguindanao province, where 58 people died in the country’s worst election-related violence in 2009, unidentified men fired rifles and grenade launchers, apparently to scare off election personnel delivering ballot boxes in Buldon town. Police said the men fled when troops arrived.
Some classrooms in a Buldon school that were to be used as a voting center were burned by unidentified men, disrupting elections in the area, regional military spokesman Colonel Dickson Hermoso said.
Gunmen also fired at a voting center in Midsayap town in North Cotabato province, near Maguindanao.
Many teachers refused to serve as election clerks in Maguindanao and North Cotabato amid reports of violence, officials said.
"We will not risk our lives," grade school teacher Bai Nora of Pikit town in North Cotabato told radio station dxND. "After the elections, the losing candidates will get back at us if we do not entertain their desire to cheat," she said.
Although there were some violent incidents, they did not "have a significant effect on the overall peace and order situation on a national scale," national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Ruben Theodore Sindac told a news conference.
"Ang pag-cast po ng ballot ay naidaos ng mapayapa at maayos. So far, generally peaceful," he said, adding that all 17 Police Regional Offices (PRO) across the country reported no serious concerns in their areas.
(Photos taken in Taguig City)
In Davao Region, for instance, police described the conduct of the barangay polls as generally peaceful amid the arrest of a number of gun ban and liquor ban violators.
Chief Superintendent Wency Pascual, director of the PRO Davao, said that as far as peace and order is concerned, not a single election-related incident happened during Monday’s voting.
"The city and provincial police offices are giving me updates every two hours. So far, everything is peaceful. In fact, I even roamed around this morning (Monday), pati sa Barangay 23-C... maayos naman ang nagging takbo ng election," Pascual said.
Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta, PRO-Central Luzon director, reported a similar assessment in the region.
"All I can say [is] that as of this time (3:15 p.m.), there were no reported serious election-related incidents," said Petransanta. "Therefore, the conduct of the barangay elections in the region is generally peaceful."
Petrasanta, however, said there were reports of alleged vote buying incidents in Central Luzon, as well as the arrest of nine persons for violating the election liquor ban, but no election-related violence.
(Photos taken in Manila)
In the Cordilleras, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Baguio-Benguet provincial election supervisor Elenita Tabangin-Capuyan reported shorter lines and peaceful elections in most polling precincts in Baguio and Benguet compared to the previous polls.
She said that compared to the midterm elections, voting in the barangay elections was hassle-free, as voters started to arrive around 7 a.m. and the lines were trimmed by lunch time.
The Comelec said only a handful of voters turned out in majority of precincts in Baguio City except for some clustered precincts with numerous voters.
Despite these positive feedback from Comelec and police offices throughout the country, Sindac said they will still continue to monitor the situation, since the process has now shifted to the counting, which is the “most critical part of the electoral process.”
He noted that the last 30 days of the 45-day election period, which started on September 28, have recorded a total of 38 politically-motivated cases involving 32 shooting incidents and three stabbing. These incidents killed 22 and wounded at least 34 individuals. Of the total 73 victims, eight were reported missing based on the Task Force SAFE 2013 “Alpha” Action Center reports.
More than 800,000 candidates vied for chairmanships and other posts in more than 42,000 urban and rural villages in the Philippines. (AP/ John Carlo Cahinhinan/With Bong Garcia/Ivy C. Tejano of Sun.Star Davao/Reynaldo G. Navales and Ric Sapnu of Sun.Star Pampanga/JM Agreda of Sun.Star Baguio/Sunnex)