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Spike in poll-related violence noted, says PNP

/ 12:06 PM October 28, 2013

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded a spike in election-related violence, PNP Public Information Chief Reuben Theodore Sindac told Radyo Inquirer 990AM Monday.

“We have 64 incidents for this period alone-September up to 11 p.m. of October 27, of which 22 were killed,” Sindac said.

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Deputy Director General Felipe Rojas Jr., National Task Force SAFE (Secure and Fair Elections) commander, said police recorded a total of 13 incidentsof election-related violence in the past 24 hours.

In 2010, Sindac said there were only 25 recorded incidents, with fifteen people dead.

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At least 588 people have been arrested for violating an elections gun ban, with police confiscating nearly 500 firearms, 4,000 rounds of ammunition, 191 knives and 68 grenades, said Sindac.

There are 6,216 areas of concern across the country, which is 14.7 percent of the 42,028 villages nationwide, due to a history of electoral violence or attacks by Muslim and communist insurgents or al-Qaeda-linked militants, said Sindac. Most of these areas are from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), South Central Mindanao, Bicol Region, Ilocos Region and Eastern Visayas.

In the ARMM, 1,567 police were deployed in Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao and Sulu. Of these, 722 were sent to Maguindanao to perform special election duties.

“Our elections in the past have always been marred by untoward incidents,” military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala said, adding that government forces would guard against “spoilers to this democratic exercise.

“We are proceeding smoothly. Despite the reported violence in some areas, we still consider this as peaceful elections. We’re still on track with our security preparations,” Rojas told a news briefing at the PNP Media Center at Camp Crame.

“We assure the people that the PNP and the military are doing everything to have fair, secure and safe barangay elections. We hope to maintain this situation until the close of the polling centers,” he added.

More than 800,000 candidates are vying for chairmanships and other posts in urban and rural villages, locally called barangay (villages) — the Philippines’ smallest political units, where violence and fraud are as much a concern as they are in elections for higher office.

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More than 54 million Filipinos have registered to cast their votes.

In the latest violence, unidentified men opened fire on a police car carrying an elections officer and policemen Sunday, setting off a gunbattle that wounded the poll official, two policemen and a civilian in Palanas town in central Masbate province, police said.

Police arrested the son of a candidate for village chairman and 16 other supporters, some of them armed with shotguns and pistols, for allegedly threatening a rival candidate in southern South Cotabato province, police said.

In the country’s worst election violence, 58 members of a political clan and media workers were ruthlessly shot to death in a 2009 massacre allegedly plotted by a rival clan with its armed militias to maintain their political control over southern Maguindanao province. The accused clan members have denied any wrongdoing. Among the dead were at least 31 media workers. It was the single worst killing of journalists in the world.

Officials have postponed Monday’s elections in central Bohol province, which was devastated by a strong earthquake on October 15 that killed more than 200 people. Voting was also postponed in southern Zamboanga city, where Muslim rebels occupied coastal villages and took scores of residents hostage in a three-week standoff last month that killed more than 200 combatants and civilians. With reports from Associated Press and Marlon Ramos, Philippine Daily Inquirer

Originally posted at 10:48 am | Monday, October 28, 2013

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TAGS: barangay elections, Barangay elections 2013, Elections, PNP, Security, Violence
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