Killings of BSKE hopefuls before start of campaign period alarm CHR

Killings of BSKE hopefuls before start of campaign period alarm CHR

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights on Tuesday expressed concern over the series of violent incidents related to the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections occurring before the start of the campaign period.

The BSKE campaign period will be from October 19 to 28.

In a statement, the human rights body called attention to at least four cases in different parts of the country involving either killings of electoral candidates or incidents where they are heavily wounded by gunmen. 

The CHR is already probing these incidents, with the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Elections also acting on the cases.

The CHR flagged the following cases:

  • Incumbent Albay barangay chairperson Alex Repato — shot dead in front of his house by an unidentified gunman shortly after submitting his COC at the Comelec (August 28); the fourth barangay official killed recently
  • Barangay chairperson candidate Haron Dimalanis — shot by two men in front of the Midsayap, Cotabato municipal hall (August 20)  
  • A barangay chairman seeking reelection and a former councilor were attacked and shot in their car in Zamboanga (September 3) 
  •  Barangay captain re-electionist Erasmo Hernandez — shot dead by unidentified men riding a motorcycle in Barangay Poblacion Zone 10, Taal, Batangas (September 6)

“These cases manifest the rising numbers of election-related violence as the 2023 barangay and SK elections approach,” the CHR said.

“Continued occurrences of violence against electoral candidates undermines the electoral process and negatively impacts our democracy. The culture of fear it creates can impair the people's right to make free and empowered decisions,” the human rights body added.

The CHR also called for the establishment of more preventative mechanisms to prevent similar incidents of violence, especially in hotspot areas.

In a press conference on Tuesday, the Philippine National Police said that there already around 22 incidents of violence suspected to be related to the upcoming elections.

The BSKE will be held October 30. — Cristina Chi

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