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Elections generally peaceful - AFP, PNP.

Except for seven confirmed violent incidents, the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections across the country yesterday were generally peaceful, according to police and military officials.

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. said polling precincts from the farthest villages, including those in Barangay Pag-asa on Kalayaan Island in the Spratlys, Turtle Island in the Sulu Sea and northern Batanes, simultaneously opened at 7:30 a.m. without any major incident.

'We have reports of 42 violent incidents but the Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed only seven. Of the seven cases, 13 were killed,' Galvez said.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said the National Election Monitoring Action Center (NEMAC) at Camp Crame in Quezon City received reports of isolated violent incidents before and during election day that left 35 persons dead and 27 hurt.

The PNP, however, recorded 47 violent cases and also validated seven, with 13 persons dead. Investigations were being conducted on 40 cases, Bulalacao said.

'Intensified police operations through police response, check point, gun check and service of search warrants, resulted in the arrest of 1,350 persons for various violations, including vote buying, liquor ban, illegal possession of firearms and explosives and bladed weapons,' he said.

Police also seized 1,157 firearms, 79 grenades, 350 explosives and 7,926 ammunition.

Galvez said all of the 174,000 precincts in the country opened for the first time between 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. with the help of Comelec, police and military officials.

About 30,00 soldiers and militiamen were deputized by the Comelec for election duty, especially in critical areas in the country, to support the PNP and ensure smooth and peaceful polls, he said.

Elections, however, were suspended in Marawi City while the opening of precincts in Lanao del Norte were delayed, he said.

Aside from the slaying of former representative Eufranio Eriguel and his two bodyguards in Agoo, La Union and the killing of four persons in Basilan two days before elections, political exercises were peaceful, he added.

'These are the only incidents we deemed serious, unlike what happened in past elections in Lanao where casualties usually were in the dozens,' he said.

In Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, Galvez attributed the smooth conduct of polls to police and military's pre-election activities resulting in the settlement of rido (clan war) among warring families.

But in Pantar town, Lanao del Norte, combined government security forces raided a compound owned by Mayor Jabar Tago early Sunday and seized 15 high-powered assault rifles and pistols as well as various rounds of bullets after a brief firefight.

The combined law enforcement operations resulted in the arrest of Tago and his relatives Jamaloding and Janoding, both surnamed Tago; Rahan Gumpal, Abdul Racman Gumpal Kiram Ampuan and Nasroding Lao for violating the Comelec gun ban.

The Tagos were also found to be facing charges of frustrated murder and murder in Iligan City court.

Ampuan was on the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency drug watch list.

Galvez said soldiers were deployed in Paglas, Maguinadanao to secure a poll center bombed recently by followers of a local Moro Islamic Liberation Front commander.

33 killed

At least 33 people were killed in 42 incidents believed to have been triggered by intense political rivalry during the month-long election period for barangay and SK polls, the PNP said.?Of the incidents, seven were validated to be violent while 35 other cases were being investigated.

PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde is hoping that the number of violent incidents will no longer increase.

He directed all police units to beef up security in their respective localities.?The PNP NEMAC reported that from April 14 to May 14, total dead comprised 18 elected government officials, four candidates, three former officials, two supporters and six civilians.
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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9PHIL
Date:May 15, 2018
Words:716
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