20 killed in 43 election-related violence
MANILA, Philippines — With barely two days left before the midterm elections, the Philippine National Police has already tallied 20 people killed in 43 election-related violent incidents since the election period began on Jan. 13.
PNP spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said on Saturday that aside from the fatalities, another 24 people were injured in these incidents which mostly involved shooting, mauling, and isolated cases of assault, stabbing, slapping, harassment, strafing, robbery and illegal discharge of firearms.
The PNP earlier underscored that the number of violent incidents and casualties over the preelection period had been far lower compared to the same period in 2013, which saw 142 victims in 94 incidents, and 2016, with 192 victims in 106 incidents.
“We aim to fully implement our police interventions so these [election-related violence] will no longer increase further,” PNP chief Police Gen. Oscar Albayalde told a press briefing earlier this week.
Based on PNP data, election-related violence in 2013 and 2016 continued on Election Day and even up to the close of the election period in June, though these were fewer than the preelection period.
“We assume that we are 100-percent prepared [for Election Day], but of course we cannot say that our preparation is foolproof. The only time we can say that is after election itself, if the turnout is good and peaceful,” the PNP chief said.
946 hot spots
Authorities have also so far identified 946 towns and cities as election “hot spots,” with three areas placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)—Moises Padilla in Negros Occidental, Cotabato city in Maguindanao and Daraga town in Albay province.
The number of areas considered “red,” or “areas of grave concern”—the highest category of hot spots which requires maximum security deployment—has been pegged at 540, mostly in Mindanao after the Comelec placed the entire region in this category last month.
On Friday, Banac reiterated that the PNP does not see any security threat to the coming polls, although the PNP has already been placed on full alert status.
160,000 cops deployed
The PNP plans to deploy 160,000 policemen on Election Day—at least two police officers in the vicinity of each of the 36,000 polling centers, and around 100,000 to man police assistance desks.
Banac said police would also be deployed in checkpoints and as escorts to secure teachers transporting election paraphernalia.
The PNP has also trained 2,838 personnel to act as electoral inspectors should there be a shortage of teachers rendering election duties.
In a radio interview on Saturday, Banac likewise reminded the public of the liquor ban which will be implemented on Sunday.
“So, drinking in public places, selling liquor are no longer allowed until midnight of May . We will implement this in [the next] 48 hours.”
Ban on firearms
An earlier ban on firearms over the election period until June 12 yielded nearly 5,000 firearms and more than 42,000 other deadly weapons, causing the arrest of 5,316 people.
Meanwhile, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, which will support the police on Monday, has also declared a “red alert status” in all military camps nationwide starting Friday.
98,000 troops for poll duty
“This declaration is to ensure that our troops and all AFP personnel are ready to act on any emergency and thwart all possible threats that may arise. We are ready to respond appropriately for the honest, orderly and peaceful conduct of elections,” said AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Benjamin Madrigal Jr. in a statement over the weekend.
Over the past week, the AFP has sent off 98,000 AFP personnel for election security duty.
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