Manila: Despite reports of 35 election-related killings, the conduct of the May 14 village polls has been considered less violent compared to previous elections.
“Compared with poll-related incidences during the barangay (village) elections in 2013, this time we have 35 dead, 27 wounded in 47 violent incidents since April 14,” Chief Supt John Bulalacao, spokesman of the Philippine National Police, told media at Camp Crame on Monday just hours after the polling precincts closed.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said the number of violent incidents is significantly lower compared to 2013 elections, when close to 60 incidents were recorded and more than a hundred victims killed during the duration of the political exercise.
According to Al Parreño, acting chairman of the Commission on Elections, 100 per cent of the total 177,574 polling centres opened for the polls
Filipinos took to the polls on Monday to elect their grass roots or village level officials. The positions open for each village — the smallest governance unit under the country’s current set up — were for chairman, several counsellors as well as youth council representatives.
According to Lente (Legal Network for Truthful Elections), vote buying, vote selling, use of “flying voters”, electioneering and violent disturbance were rampant in the current poll.
“Cases of vote-buying were reported In Ilocos Sur and Taguig City. In General Santos, Zamboanga del Norte, Isabela, Quezon City and Iligan cities, a number of voters were disenfranchised because their names were missing in the voters list,” Atty Rona Ann Carlos, acting executive director of Lente said.
There had also been reports of candidates being forced by their rivals to withdraw their candidacy, especially those running for the barangay chairperson posts.
The barangay might be the last link in the country’s governance set up. It is considered to be one of the most corrupt.
According to the Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs, Martin Diño, positions in the barangay had been a source of corruption as officials are given charge of several millions of pesos in development funds.”
“We are trying to make headway by making these barangay officials more accountable for the use of their funds so they can be less corruption,” he said in a TV interview.