Group: Brace for more poll violence in 2025 | Inquirer News

Group: Brace for more poll violence in 2025

/ 04:40 AM November 04, 2023

Police awaiting the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) at the crime scene where two voters and supporters of a local candidate were killed at 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, in front of Bugawas Elementary School in Barangay Bugawas, Datu Odin Sinsuat town of Maguindanao del Norte. PHOTO BY FERDINANDH CABRERA

Police awaiting the Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) at the crime scene where two voters and supporters of a local candidate were killed at 6 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, in front of Bugawas Elementary School in Barangay Bugawas, Datu Odin Sinsuat town of Maguindanao del Norte. PHOTO BY FERDINANDH CABRERA

ILIGAN CITY—A conflict monitoring group has told the government to prepare way ahead for a possible surge of more violence during the 2025 midterm elections, especially in the Bangsamoro region.

In a post-election security brief, the Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia (CCAA) said that while Monday’s youth and village elections were described as peaceful by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) because there was no failure of balloting, incidents monitored in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) pointed to more trouble ahead.

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Through its Critical Events Monitoring System, CCAA gathered 200 incidents of violence throughout the region such as shooting, stabbing, hacking, riots and fistfights, and cases of harassment and intimidation to scare off voters and supporters of particular slates.

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From Oct. 19, the start of campaigning, up to the closing of polling precincts last Monday, CCAA said it counted 17 killings in the BARMM and adjacent areas, 11 of which occurred during Election Day.

This makes Monday’s polls the “bloodiest election in Muslim Mindanao.”

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“The 17 fatalities as of this date are for the Bangsamoro alone, and the figures are likely to further increase in post-election skirmishes,” the CCAA report warned.

Previous studies about violence in Bangsamoro areas point to the elections, especially for village seats, as a major driver of “rido” or clan conflict.

According to CCAA, there was “inadequate security and weak response protocols” put up by Comelec and the Philippine National Police.

It noted that the refusal of some 2,000 teachers to report for poll duty last Monday “betrays the lack of trust in the ability of law enforcers to protect them and secure their polling precincts.”

Hot spots

CCAA also noted its monitors “did not see discipline, order and peace reign in areas that were already declared as hot spots long ago.”

“This is strange because security forces had ample information and time to prepare for violence as these affected places were the same places predicted to be notoriously violent and bloody,” the group said.

“Neither did the threat of violence against the non-Moro indigenous peoples like the Teduray and Lambangian decrease during this democratic exercise. In some places like Datu Odin Sinsuat, some non-Moro indigenous peoples were not able to vote because they were forced to move their polling precincts, while others feared for their safety,” the CCAA added.

“The security forces were certainly unprepared for the pushback from armed groups,” the group further noted.

Lessons

CCAA said these observations and lessons must be carefully considered as the government prepares for the midterm elections in 2025.

“The violence in the Oct. 30 polls is merely a prelude to the 2025 elections. It signifies the level and scope of violence that all must be prepared for,” CCAA pointed out. “Inter and intraclan warfare will intensify tenfold in many places of the BARMM mainland, especially as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) aims to strengthen its political legitimacy in the region.”

In 2025, the MILF, through its United Bangsamoro Justice Party, will be thrust into the political fray as the BARMM elects for the first time members of the regional parliament.

Credible leaders

Among others, CCAA said the government should “advance the deployment of more troops weeks before the election” as well as “harness traditional, religious and credible community leaders to start brokering peaceful arrangements among rival groups and elite bargains weeks before the elections.”

It also recommended the completion of the decommissioning process of MILF’s armed wing before 2025, in step with raids against private armed groups.

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“If the MILF weapons decommissioning process remains unfinished, the cantonment of weapons held by the thousands of MILF combatants must be imposed before, during and after the elections,” CCAA said. INQ

TAGS: Elections, Violence

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