MANILA, Philippines— As voting for village and youth council representatives started Monday, the Philippine National Police (PNP) noted that election-related violent incidents this year were about 70 percent lower than in similar elections in 2007.
The relatively peaceful and orderly situation of voting for 672,400 elective posts in 42,025 barangays (villages) across the country is attributed to increased police and community vigilance.
In a press conference, PNP Director General Raul Bacalzo said there were 40 incidents of election-related violence (ERV) noted in this year’s grassroots elections, with 41 casualties (29 deaths, 12 wounded). This was “very low” compared to the 67 incidents of ERV noted in similar elections in 2007 when recorded casualties numbered 69.
“We can attribute this to increased vigilance and community participation. The public listened to our announcement that during election period, carrying of firearms is prohibited. We can also attribute the low (number of) incidents to our Comelec checkpoints,” Bacalzo said.
Regions 12 (Soccsksargen) and ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) noted the most number of ERVIs, with eight incidents in Region 12 and four incidents in ARMM.
Correspondingly, police confiscated 523 firearms and arrested 623 persons in relation to the gun ban imposed by the Commission on Elections. A total of 223 people were also arrested overnight in violation of the liquor ban, Bacalzo said.
While the PNP is expecting generally peaceful local elections, Bacalzo said police are still bracing for possible violence that will spark on election day itself.
“Based on our experience, violent incidents always occur on election day itself. But with the help of our community and with police and military forces, we hope that the incidents will not be as violent as they were,” Bacalzo said.
Meanwhile, the PNP also fielded 1,023 police trainees to the provinces of Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao to serve as board of election tellers. The trainees will serve in nine towns in Lanao del Sur and 20 towns in Maguindanao.
But Bacalzo clarified that this was not due to violence but mainly to the lack of teachers in these villages. Based on the reports of Comelec, a lot of teachers in those areas could not serve as board of election tellers because these teachers have relatives who are either running for village chief or village councilor. This is not allowed,” he added.
Sixteen positions are to be filled in each barangay (village)—eight in the barangay council (one barangay chair and seven council members) and eight in the youth (one chair and seven council members).
More than 50 million Filipinos (18 and above) are eligible to vote in the village elections and 2.46 million (15 to 17 years old) in the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) balloting.
Barangays are authorized by law to disburse some P53 billion for local economic development projects and services under the 1991 Local Government Code. Their leaders act as judges in domestic disputes, supervise delivery of basic services, and secure neighborhoods.
Unlike in last May’s automated national elections, voting and counting of ballots in Monday’s polls will be done manually. - End of Inquirer.net article -
|Election workers prepare the ballot boxes to be delivered to "the provinces"|
There is a total ban on the sale of ANY alcoholic beverage all day the day before the election, on Election Day, and does not end until midnight, the day after the election. Liquor ban violators face prison terms of between 1-6 years in prison and being stripped of their right to vote and be elected to a government post if they are found guilty.
All schools are closed today because teachers are the backbone of the polling place staff in the provinces. All government offices and banks are also closed on Election Day. Military cadets were sent to some provinces to act as poll workers because a teacher can't serve as an election worker if they have a relative running for office, and in this election, many do. The military has also sent military police to help in Manila and a few provinces where Election Day Violence has been a problem in previous elections.
Yesterday was Grace's birthday, and a couple of her friends wanted us to go our to a Karaoke bar to celebrate. I had never done Karaoke before, so it took me a little while to learn to use all the visual cues, but I did a credible job with Cat Steven's "Father and Son," and knocked their sox off with CCR's "Lodi," a big favorite with all open mic performers because the lyrics capture the frustration of a performer with people who didn't come to listen to the music. I still wish it was open mic so I could play my guitar and have control of the key and tempo! The alcohol ban was in effect, so we were a little more restrained than most Karaoke performers. I turned in the number for The Everly Brothers' "Bye Bye Love" but got Simon and Garfunkles' "Bridge Over Troubled Water" instead. Grace's friends thought I sang it well, but I was NOT happy with my performance. I am a "BassAtone," Too high for bass, and too low for baritone. It is hell for me to try to sing any "standard arrangement" because the pitch is always wrong for me. One of Grace's friends told me that Karaoke was the number one form of entertainment in the Philippines, and every neighborhood does seem to have at least one Karaoke bar.