Manila, Oct 30 (EFE).- More than 67 million Filipinos were called to the polls amid tight security on Monday for elections to decide some 336,000 local administration positions throughout the archipelago.
Philippine Army soldiers keep watch outside the Pasong Tamo Elementary School, a pilot venue for the automated system of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (village and youth council) elections in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines 30 October 2023. EFE/EPA/ROLEX DELA PENA
The “barangay” (or village, the smallest of the administrative divisions) elections are historically the most violent in the Philippines, usually seeing altercations and bloody confrontations between rival clans that dominate the various regions of the country.
On Monday afternoon, National Police chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr. said election-related incidents had risen to 31, according to the state Philippines News Agency (PNA).
Two people were killed and at least five injured when gunmen opened fire in Maguindanao del Norte, on the southern island of Mindanao, police said.
In Butig, Lanao del Sur, a shootout between the husband of an incumbent village chairperson and his wife’s opponent took place just minutes before the start of the polls, according to the PNA.
It also reported that a village chief and five others were wounded in a shooting in the Basilan island town of Tuburan.
On Sunday, a suspected jihadist also died in Mindanao when a homemade explosive device detonated prematurely, in an incident also being investigated by authorities for links to the elections.
Ahead of the elections, fires were also reported at two buildings that were going to host the elections, while between Aug. 28 and Oct. 25, eight people died and seven were injured in violent acts related to the elections, according to the police.
To prevent violence on Monday, more than 300,000 police officers and more than 100,000 soldiers were deployed to ensure the safety of voters in the more than 42,000 constituencies.
One of the earliest voters on Monday was President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who cast his vote in the city of Batac in the province of Ilocos Norte, a historical Marcos family stronghold.
“My advice is not to waste your right to choose your barangay officials. These officials are the ones you face every day, and they are your go-to people to help with your problems,” Marcos told reporters.
Barangay heads often enforce local policies, provide basic public services, resolve neighborhood disputes, and play a crucial role in rallying electoral support for candidates in general and municipal elections. EFE