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BSKE deaths climb to 19

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star
BSKE deaths climb to 19
Another deadly incident involving supporters of a defeated candidate for barangay chairman and the reelected candidate occurred in Mindanao before the end of election day last Monday, but this has yet to be validated and added to the tally.
STAR / File

237 poll-related incidents recorded

MANILA, Philippines — At least 19 people have been killed as a result of violence in connection with the recently concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Another deadly incident involving supporters of a defeated candidate for barangay chairman and the reelected candidate occurred in Mindanao before the end of election day last Monday, but this has yet to be validated and added to the tally.

“It’s 29 validated election-related violence, and those 29 incidents resulted in 19 deaths,” Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco said in an interview yesterday, adding that there were also 19 injuries.

Laudiangco said that the number of election-related incidents (ERIs) could still go up, considering that the BSKE period is until Nov. 29.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded a total of 244 ERIs, but he said that only 29 were confirmed as election-related while 111 were suspected and 104 were found to be non-ERIs upon verification.

The Comelec chief noted that most of the ERIs and deaths were recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Despite the violent incidents that resulted in the death of 19 people, Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay maintained that last Monday’s BSKE was peaceful and orderly.

Compared to past BSKEs, the number of reported ERIs for the recently concluded polls was much lower, according to the Comelec.

In a related development, a voter died at a hospital from a gunshot wound sustained as two groups supporting rival candidates clashed within the premises of a polling site in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte last Monday afternoon.

Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region director Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza yesterday said the trouble that resulted in the death of Esmael Genta caused tension among teachers facilitating the elections in rooms at the Sarilikha High School in Barangay Semba in Datu Odin Sinsuat.

Gunshots reverberated through the scene as the two groups clashed. Genta, who was hit in the neck while running away, slumped face down on a stretch of the concrete highway near the school campus where the elections were being held.

Investigators from the Datu Odin Sinsuat Municipal Police Station under Lt. Col. Esmael Madin are still trying to identify who fired the gunshot that killed Genta.

Deadly scuffle

Meanwhile, two supporters of a defeated candidate for barangay chairman were shot and killed after they engaged in a scuffle against the re-elected chairman and his followers last Monday night in a barangay in Lamitan City, Basilan.

Killed in the shooting were Sagon Kiya Jailun, 53, and Unnang Turabin Alasa, while the suspects were incumbent and re-elected barangay chairman Abdullah Ramos Panglias; Absar Panglias, a candidate for barangay councilor and Ghalib Tala Sasal – all residents of Barangay Balagtasan, according to Lamitan City police chief Lt. Col. Arlan Delumpines.

Delumpines said investigation showed that the victims and Panglias initially engaged in heated arguments over the result of the balloting at the Barangay Balagtasan polling precinct, which prompted the Board of Canvassers to transfer all the ballot boxes to the city gymnasium.

Panglias, however, insisted on transporting some of the ballot boxes aboard his vehicle, sparking a brawl and subsequent shooting at about 7:45 p.m., leaving the two victims dead on the spot before the horrified residents.

Delumpines said Panglias and his two followers escaped toward the city proper after the shooting incident.

Responding police and military forces recovered from the crime scene 11 spent shells of caliber .45 pistol and two spent shells of caliber 5.56 mm believed to be from an M16 rifle.

A follow-up operation launched by the police led to the arrest hours later of Sasal and recovered from his possession one M16 rifle, a Garand rifle, assorted ammunition of the recovered firearms and a bladed weapon.

Delumpines said Panglias and Absar remain at large and were objects of the pursuit operation.

Shelling

Elsewhere, four were hurt, among them a soldier, when gunmen pounded with 40-millimeter grenade projectiles the surroundings of a polling site in Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao del Norte amid the election proper last Monday afternoon.

Nobleza said the conduct of elections at the Simuay Junction Elementary School in Simuay, Sultan Kudarat resumed immediately after policemen and soldiers had spread around the barangay to prevent a repeat of the shelling.

He added that the attack was apparently meant to disrupt the elections in Barangay Simuay, about 16 kilometers northwest of Cotabato City.

Three villagers – Ibrahim Aman Mayon, Muslimin Kapenda, Ibrahim Kamad – and a member of the Army unit assigned at the public school to help secure polling activities sustained shallow shrapnel wounds in different parts of their bodies but are now all out of danger, according to Nobleza.

237 incidents

At least 237 incidents were recorded by the Philippine National Police (PNP) during the BSKE last Monday.

In a situation report issued by the PNP yesterday, of the 237, at least 35 of them were validated ERIs, 103 were suspected and 99 were non-ERIs.

PNP recorded at least 13 incidents in the BARMM, the highest number recorded.

At least 17 shooting incidents were recorded: two for kidnapping, light threats and harassment, respectively, and four for mauling.

At a press briefing at Camp Crame yesterday, PNP Public Information Office chief Col. Jean Fajardo said that in response to changes in the criteria for validating ERIs, there have been no alterations.

The guidelines, according to Fajardo, stipulate that when an incident occurs, the regional validation committee investigating it has 10 days to classify it as a confirmed ERI or non-ERI.

She noted that there is a revalidation process at the national level to ensure the accuracy of the classification of ERIs.

“This includes reviewing incidents initially categorized as non-ERIs that may be reclassified as confirmed ERIs based on further scrutiny,” she said in Filipino.

On the implementation of gun ban, at least 2,032 individuals have been arrested, while 1,540 guns have been confiscated, 2,357 have been deposited for safekeeping and 1,701 have been surrendered.

Fajardo said they would continue monitoring post-election scenarios, as she emphasized the need for candidates to accept their losses.

“As long as the winner is not yet sitting, we will continue to monitor the situation,” she said.

She added that the gun ban, which extends until Nov. 29, is in place to ensure the security of post-election activities.

As a result, law enforcement will remain active until post-election processes are concluded, according to the PNP official. — John Unson, Roel Pareño, Mark Ernest Viileza

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