Manila: Violent incidents related to Monday’s vote have increased in frequency, police said, adding they expect the number of such acts to rise during and after the vote.
Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesperson Wilben Mayor said the number of election-related violence from January 10 to May 8 has risen to 146, with 15 confirmed fatalities and nine injured.
Central Luzon has the highest number of election-related incidences — five — among the regions.
There were four incidents of election violence recorded in Southern Tagalog and Cagayan Valley with three each in Ilocos and Central Visayas regions, and two each in Metro Manila and Northern Mindanao.
Authorities are also closely watching known private armed groups maintained by politicians. According to Mayor, there are some 82 private armed groups in the Philippines, 75 of which are in Mindanao.
He added that a ban enforced by national police on unauthorised carrying of firearms outside the residence and use of guns without proper permits has so far netted some 3,000 people. Some of those apprehended include policemen and soldiers.
Authorities said more elections-related violent incidents are expected to take place on the actual day of election and its succeeding days.
Meanwhile, he said, members of the national police are under strict orders to remain non-partisan.
Last April 26, Marquez signed a pledge to remain apolitical — a necessary quality to safeguard the integrity the elections. The Armed Forces of the Philippines had earlier affirmed a similar vow.
Likewise, police were also directed to maintain discipline and neutrality, especially when using social networking sites, or risk being charged administratively, said Police Director for Police Community Relations Wilfredo Franco.