AS THE campaign period for local candidates begins Friday, reports of election-related violence are also expected to increase.

A Commission on Elections (Comelec) official told reporters Thursday that local polls usually involve clashing of family members and has tendency to lead to violence.

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"Pag local po, mainit po ang ating halalan at kampanya. There is that possibility (violence) kaya dapat doblehin ang ating vigilance para maiwasan ang election-related violence," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said.

"Politics is thicker than water pagdating ng halalan," Sarmiento added.

Some groups have advised the poll body to allow local officials to sign peace pacts, ensuring that there will be orderly elections held in the local level.

But Sarmiento said that although this is a good idea, peace covenants are usually not followed by local bets.

Last November 23, 2009, the most gruesome election-related violence occurred in the province of Maguindanao.

Relatives of Esmael Mangudadatu, who is running against Datu Unsay mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., were killed in the incident including journalists and the family's lawyers.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, meanwhile, admitted that the automated system might influence the election violence in the local level.

"Probably wala naman pakialam yung automation sa girian ng kandidato eh baka nga factor pa yun kasi takot na sila. Alam nilang pag nanalo yung kalaban, panalo talaga so the tendency there is to try to pre-empt the election by just killing your opponent," said Jimenez.

Sarmiento also noted that the commission cannot simply put an area under its control without a petition filed with the poll body.

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay wanted to place his city under Comelec control after some incidents of violence between the supporters of incumbent Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and lawyer Erwin Genuino.

Binay's son Jun-jun is also running for the city's mayoral post.

"Hindi pwedeng outright you can place a city under Comelec control. There has a petition that has to be filed before the Comelec...We have to seek the advice of the PNP (Philippine National Police) and a hearing to prove there is a serious armed threat in that place," said Sarmiento.

The PNP has so far identified 43 confirmed partisan armed groups, while 25 others remain unconfirmed.

The public, especially voters, are meanwhile urged to report local candidates who will disobey campaign rules.

Through Resolution 8758, candidates running for local positions were given 60 minutes of airtime for television and 90 minutes in radio, whether by purchase or donation, wherever located, per station.

Written or printed materials should not exceed eight and one-half inches in width and fourteen inches in length. Posters made of cloth, paper, whether framed or posted should not exceed two feet by three feet.

Comelec has earlier called on all bets to follow the guidelines or else face disqualification charges.

Jimenez said since these candidates directly represent their people, they should be more responsible in obeying campaign rules.

"My greatest hope for this election is that those who violate the law, lose the election," he said. (Kathrina Alvarez/Sunnex)