‘GENERALLY peaceful and orderly.” This is the prediction of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) that started on April 14. It will end on May 14.
The basis of the DILG, Assistant Secretary for Capacity Development, Public Affairs and Communication Jonathan E. Malaya said, is the continued reduction of the number of untoward incidents during the BSKE elections for the past eight years.
“We believe the BSKE elections will become peaceful and orderly because the trend has been going down from 2010 to 2013 up to this time,” Malaya said.
He told the media that “the good news is, election-related violent incidents during the barangay and SK elections are continuously going down.”
In the 2013 BSKE, there were about 57 reported ERVIs, the majority of which transpired in Mindanao.
In the 2010 BSKE, there were 98 reported election-related incidents.
“Thus, official reports from the field showed a clear declining trend in the past two barangay elections,” Malaya asserted as he sought to prove the DILG’s prediction that the BSKE is generally peaceful and orderly correct.
However, Malaya admitted there are areas prone to election violence called “election hot spots.”
The Philippine National Police (PNP) is tasked to ensure that these election hot spots would end up peaceful and orderly.
Placing those election hot spots under the jurisdiction of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also an option, Malaya said.
Despite this problem, Malaya added the May 14 elections “are fairly different from the previous ones, using Mindanao as an example where martial law is currently being enforced, hence entailing a more stringent police presence,” Malaya said.
“Mindanao is under martial law, so I am expecting there is greater police presence, there is greater military presence, and security forces are deployed all over Mindanao, thus it would not be as intense as the last election,” he added.
He also cited the overall decrease of crime volume in the country, the prevailing martial law in Mindanao, the revived peace talks between the government and Communist rebels and the impending passage of the Bangsamoro basic law as factors that will ensure that the BSKE would become generally peaceful and orderly.
“Most of the time, the presence of lawless elements, such as armed groups, makes the barangay election heated. But, if security measures are in place, which we expect to happen, we are confident the downward trend of violence will continue,” Malaya said.
Meanwhile, the PNP released the Guidelines and Procedure for a Secure and Fair Synchronized BSKE 2018 in order to provide a comprehensive security coverage in BSKE in partnership with the Comelec, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and other government agencies.
Under the said guidelines, all PNP units are on alert during the election period and shall ensure compliance of barangay officials with pertinent laws and rules before, during and after elections; oversee and enforce peace and order measures for the elections; and promote well-informed voting and active participation of people in the elections to combat vote-buying and other related illegal activities.
However, Comelec Spokesman Director James Jimenez said the Comelec decided to suspend the BSKE in Marawi because they need to assess the peace-and-order situation first. Jimenez added the Comelec will lift the suspension order after three months if the BSKE can be held.
Thus, the incumbent officers will be on hold-over status until the result of the assessment comes out, Jimenez said.
Malaya said, “Marawi is a special case [because] the Bangon Marawi Task Force is currently undertaking efforts to rehabilitate the city.”