Election violence: 35 killed so far
Bebot Sison Jr., Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - May 7, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Thirty-five dead, and counting.

In the 112 days since the start of the election period, 58 cases of suspected election-related violent incidents have been recorded, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday.

The PNP-Directorate for Investigation and Detection Management (DIDM) said that the 58 incidents included 11 cases that were verified to have been triggered by election issues, while 47 others are still under investigation.

The DIDM said that out of the 58 cases, some 35 victims were killed and 34 were wounded in 51 shooting incidents, one ambush, two grenade-throwing cases, one strafing and three other cases.

The PNP had placed the entire police force on full alert in preparation for the May 13 polls.

The full alert status, the highest alert condition in the police force, will remain in effect until after election security operations have been completed.

Director Lina Sarmiento of the PNP Directorate for Police Community Relations (DPCR) said regional police directors were authorized to extend the effectivity of the full alert status depending on the prevailing situation in their areas of responsibility.

“Under full alert status, the leaves of absence are cancelled and all personnel are required to report to their duty stations,” Sarmiento said. “We assure the public that we in the PNP will secure the sanctity of your votes.”

The PNP had activated yesterday the Media Operations Center of National Task Force SAFE 2013 (Secure and Fair Elections), which will serve as information hub and monitor of the situation nationwide. The National Task Force SAFE Media Center will be operational 24/7 at the 2nd floor of the Multi-Purpose Hall in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

“This media center features live updates of situations in the police regional and provincial offices. The SAFE Media Center will hold press briefing daily, and periodic press briefing for significant live updates from the field,” said Sarmiento.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima ordered the deployment of some 30,000 personnel to augment PNP local units, particularly in areas tagged as election areas of concern to maximize the effective strength of the police for election duty.

Purisima said the 30,000 troop augmentation force was mustered from 18,000 troops that were pulled from administrative duty in the national, regional, and provincial offices, and 12,000 more personnel currently undergoing training and schooling.

Chief Superintendent Miguel Antonio, SAFE deputy task force commander, said lawyers in the PNP were also deployed in 17 regions to help enlighten policemen on issues in connection with election duties.

In her briefing, Sarmiento said there were 1,355 peace covenants signed by 5,024 candidates nationwide as measures to prevent violence.

“We exerted effort to convince candidates to prevent violence,” she said.

Antonio said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will train 117 policemen as members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) in some areas in Lanao del Sur after teachers detailed as poll officers backed out for fear of violence in the polling precincts.

He said the training would be held in Cagayan de Oro City.

Antonio said policemen were given clear guidelines on the do’s and don’ts before, during and after the elections.

Policemen should be 50 meters away from the polling precinct.

“If ever policemen will enter the precinct they should secure a clearance from the BEIs,” Antonio added.

BOARD OF ELECTION INSPECTORS CAMP CRAME CHIEF SUPERINTENDENT MIGUEL ANTONIO DIRECTOR GENERAL ALAN PURISIMA DIRECTOR LINA SARMIENTO ELECTION INVESTIGATION AND DETECTION MANAGEMENT MEDIA CENTER PNP SARMIENTO
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