50 dead in poll-related violence since January 10

Bebot Sison Jr., Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – At least 50 people, or an average of nearly one person every two days, were killed during the 119-day election period since Jan. 10, the Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday.

The PNP released the data on election-related violence on the eve of election day.

PNP spokesman Chief Superintendent Wilben Mayor said that from Jan. 10 to May 8, the police recorded 146 “election incident concerns” in 18 regions nationwide.

“Out of 146 cases, 28 were validated to be election related. Out of this 28, 50 were killed, nine injured, and 43 unharmed, for a total of 67 victims,” Mayor said.

Out of 146 incidents, 60 cases were not election related, and 58 are suspected to be in relation to the run up to the elections, Mayor said.

Central Luzon topped the region having “validated” election-related incidents with five cases, followed by Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog, Central Visayas with four cases each, three in the Ilocos region, two cases each in Metro Manila and Northern Mindanao, and one each in Western Mindanao, Bicol region, Cordillera and Central Mindanao.

On Saturday, the last day of the campaign, four people were killed in separate attacks against two mayoral candidates in Isabela and Bukidnon provinces, reports said.

Authorities are also investigating the killing of a nine-year-old girl in Shariff Aguak town in Maguindanao.

Four people were also injured in the grenade attack just after rival political camps wrapped up their campaign.

Also on Saturday, a soldier was killed while six others were wounded in an attack by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Mapanas town in Northern Samar.

Troops from the Army’s 20th Infantry Battalion were escorting officials transporting the vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used for today’s elections when they were ambushed by the NPA along the Corazon Aquino highway in Barangay Manaybanay.

Two known supporters of a mayoral candidate in Balasan, Iloilo were shot dead yesterday.

Reports said the local police are still investigating if the killings are election related.

On the other hand, a policeman was injured when he tried to pacify supporters of rival mayoralty candidates in Mulanay, Quezon yesterday.

Mayor said last Saturday’s mitings de avance of the five presidential candidates held in various areas in Metro Manila were generally peaceful.

Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Grace Poe held their separate mitings de avance in Manila.

Administration candidate Manuel Roxas and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago led their last campaign rally in separate places in Quezon City while Vice President Jejomar Binay gathered his supporters in a final pitch in Makati City.

Mayor said the five presidential candidates have been provided police security.

He added the PNP would also deploy additional policemen to polling precincts where the five presidential candidates are expected cast their ballots.

“But as of now we cannot really afford to provide additional, but we will rely on the security of the polling place at the same time their individual security which was already provided previously,” Mayor explained.

However, if any or all five presidential candidates request for additional security, Mayor said the local police would provide support.

Mayor reiterated the commitment of PNP chief Director General Ricardo Marquez that the national police will do their best to have honest, orderly and peaceful elections today.

“Our job is to provide security, assure a safe and secure elections, so we must concentrate now on the security of the polling places, that is the primary task right now,” he added.

Mayor added the PNP has completed its task in delivering the VCMs in some areas.

“Latest information from the national election monitoring action center said the latest delivery would be in Sulu this (yesterday) noon, This was based on the schedule given by the Comelec (Commission on Elections),” he said.

Mayor said the PNP has also augmented police forces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, in the Southern Tagalog region and Central Luzon.

“We have a total of 220 personnel that will form part of quick reaction force considering that based on the instruction of the Comelec, we have standby personnel to act as special board of election inspectors,” Mayor said.

The Comelec has passed a resolution appointing PNP personnel to act as substitute for teachers who refuse to perform election duties.

Torched bus

In Baguio City, congressional candidate Camilo Lammawin Jr.’s mini-bus, used in his campaign sorties, was burned at dawn yesterday in Tabuk City, capital of Kalinga province.

The fire was put out at around 2:56 a.m.

Unnamed perpetrators set fire to the Hino mini bus of Dupag Barangay chairman Samuel Banasan Sunal-ay at Purok 3, Bulanao Norte, Tabuk City, according to Kalinga police.

“This is very violent,” former Tabuk City mayor and now Kalinga provincial board member Lammawin said. “This is the very first time they did this in my political campaign.”

Political foes “even hire armed men and tried to harass my supporters,” Lammawin said.

He refused to name who among his political foes was behind the violence.

It is a three-cornered fight for the lone legislative district of Kalinga among Lammawin, Carlos Duyan and Vice Gov. Allen Jesse Mangaoan.

Only Abra in the Cordillera region has so far been declared under the control of the Comelec for today’s polls.

However, the poll body was earlier taking a close look at Kalinga because of some violent incidents in the province during past elections. – With Ed Amoroso, John Unson, Michelle Zoleta, Ricky Bautista, Raymund Catindig, Artemio Dumlao, Jennifer Rendon

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