Campaign period 'more peaceful' in 2013: police

Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom
Philippine police officers stand at attention during a gathering at the Philippine National Police headquarters in suburban Manila in 2011. A Philippine policeman has been detained in connection with the kidnapping and murder of a woman after he was caught on camera driving the victim's vehicle, an official said on Tuesday

The campaign period leading to the May 2013 polls is "generally more peaceful" compared to that of the last presidential elections.

Election-related crimes have so far dropped significantly, the Philippine National Police said, despite reports of violence in Lanao and Misamis provinces.

Only 49 election-related incidents have been recorded nationwide from January 10 to April 26, PNP spokesperson Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said in a press briefing.

This is lower than the 73 incidents recorded in the 2010 presidential polls and another 73 idruing the 2007 senatorial elections.

Only nine of the 49 incidents have however been confirmed while the remaining are still under investigation.

Related story: Philippine rebels rake it in from vote extortion, official says

"This year's campaign is generally more peaceful and there are less victims of election-related incidents compared to the victims in the 2010 elections," Cerbo said.

At least 12 people have been killed in election-related incidents, while four have been wounded.

These incidents mostly occured in "15 priority provinces" of Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, and Basilan.

Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas welcomed the report, saying this should allay fears that election-related violence is worse during senatorial polls.

"I have not seen a survey that says election violence is worse. Perhaps, this statistics may help clear that up," Roxas said.

Also read: Anatomy of election violence

The Cabinet official noted, however, that the figures do not include the 13 in Lanao del Norte province last week, which has been considered to be a result of "rido" or clan war.

"There are high profile incidents like what happened in Lanao del Norte and to Ginoog Mayor (Ruthie) Guingona. We are not denying these incidents but our point is, we want to provide context on these incidents," Roxas said.

"If they people know the context, they might realize that we have a more peaceful election compared before," he noted.

PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima meanwhile said they are beefing up their strategy agaisnt rebels who allegedly intimidate candidates itp pay "campaign fees."

Purisima said they are running against rebels who are reportedly putting up fake checkpoints aimed at attacking candidates in guerilla areas.