Philippine village council elections marred by isolated violence
National police report 22 killed and dozens injured in run-up to polls
Voters cast their ballots in village council elections on Monday in Manila (photo by Rene Sandajan)
Monday’s village council elections in the Philippines were mostly peaceful and marred only by limited acts of violence and voting irregularities in mostly rural areas, according to police and election officials.
About 54 million people in 42,000 villages went to the polls to elect village heads and more than 715,000 village council members.
Lawyer Sixto Brillantes Jr, head of the country's Commission on Elections, said this year's polls were "okay", amid several minor incidents reported.
Speaking on national television, Brillantes said the commission recorded 18 incidents of political harassment, shooting and gunfire, and the theft of ballot boxes on election day.
"These are very isolated cases," Brillantes said. "We don't have much of a problem really up to this point in time," he said on Monday afternoon.
The Philippine National Police recorded 34 election-related violent incidents, including 30 shootings and two stabbings during this year’s election, which officially began in September and culminated in Monday’s polls.
Some 22 candidates and supporters were killed in these incidents, while another 27 others were injured, according to the national police.
In the last village polls in 2007, police recorded more than 100 poll-related violent incidents.
The most common infractions, according to the Legal Network for Truthful Elections – an independent poll watchdog – included vote-buying and selling, illegal electioneering, the unauthorized entry of candidates in polling places and the disenfranchisement of voters in certain areas of the country.
In the country’s restive South, voting was “peaceful and successful”, according to an Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson.
Colonel Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army's 6th Infantry Division in Mindanao, said armed men attempted "to block the delivery of ballot boxes" in North Cotabato province.
He said at least four classrooms that served as polling precincts were also burned in Buldon town.
So far, at least 588 people have been arrested for violating an election gun ban while 500 firearms, 4,000 rounds of ammunition, 191 knives and 68 grenades have been confiscated, according to police.
Village council elections in the southern city of Zamboanga, where some 120,000 residents were displaced by the recent fighting between government troops and Moro rebels, and in the central province of Bohol, which was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake last week, have been postponed until November 25.
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