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‘BLOODY’ BARANGAY POLLS: 20 DIE, WINNERS PROCLAIMED; 294 disqualification petitions filed vs candidates, assumption suspended

By ALFRED GABOT, Editor in Chief

MANILA — In what authorities described as a preview of the national and local elections in 2025, 20 candidates and supporters were killed and at least 19 others injured during the just concluded Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) period, prompting many to call it a “bloody” election and “bloodiest” in Muslim areas although it went on orderly overall with over 95 percent of winners promptly proclaimed.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Garcia and Spokesperson Rex Laudiangco confirmed the casualties, citing reports from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces and other election officials.

Chairman Garcia earlier declared the polls as “generally peaceful nationwide even if there are a few incidents of violence, especially in the Bangsamoro.”

“Though the figures are quite high, they are really low compared to the figures coming in from the 2013 and 2018 barangay elections, where we had more than 300 election-related incidents and deaths,” he added.

At press time, the Comelec officials said all winners in the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) have been proclaimed but assumption of some winners were suspended pending resolution of complaints against them.

Comelec Spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said 100 percent of the results from 42,001 villages nationwide were transmitted as of 3 p.m. yesterday

Laudiangco and Chairman Garcia thanked law enforcement authorities and the Department of Education for securing the local elections. They also thanked other government agencies and offices, election watchdogs, and candidates and voters.

However, some winners in other areas faced pending cases before Comelec due to illegal campaigning, vote-buying, and other election offenses. These cases must first be resolved before the candidates can assume office.

Out of the 256 candidates with pending cases, 59 have won with their proclamations duly suspended.

Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos. Meanwhile, reminded all winners to have a proper turnover with their predecessor and sign the necessary documents.

Three of the winners in this year’s elections are persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) who ran as village councilor—one from Datu Esmael Village, Dasmariñas, Cavite; another from Kay-Buto Village, Tanay, Rizal, and one from Ipunan Village, Cagayan De Oro City.

The 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) turned out to be the “bloodiest election in the past decade” in the autonomous region in Mindanao despite claims by officials it was generally peaceful, according to a group that monitors conflict and climate risks.

The Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia (CCAA) said it has monitored 200 reports of critical events across provinces within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). They include incidents of shooting, stabbing, hacking, riots and fistfights, as well as harassment and intimidation of voters and candidates’ supporters.

Since the start of the campaign on Oct .19 up to Oct. 30, 19 deaths were recorded, including 11 during Election Day on Monday, the CCAA added. It also recorded 30 injured and wounded individuals across the region.

“Contrast these figures with the 2018 barangay elections, where there were 35 deaths recorded across the country,” the report said. “The 17 fatalities as of this date are for the Bangsamoro alone, and the figures are likely to further increase in post-election skirmishes.”

The Comelec officials said there was no failure of elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) elections.

Comelec regional director in BARMM Ray Sumalipao also reported that the 2023 BSKE has “concluded successfully, with no evidence of election failures.”

“Despite violence and untoward incidents, I would say that it’s generally peaceful and absolutely honest, orderly, and credible elections,” Sumalipao said in a statement.

Amid the “sporadic” incidents during the conduct of the polls, Sumalipao stressed the need to deploy additional security personnel to serve in the BARMM.

Laudiangco refuted the statement of the Council for Climate and Conflict Action in Asia which attributed the number of violent incidents in the BARMM during the 2023 BSKE to “government complacency.”

The CCAA said the 200 reports were sent to the Critical Events Monitoring System (CEMS) on Oct. 30 by the Early Response Networks stationed across the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao provinces, island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the 63 Special Geographic Areas in the Bangsamoro region.

The report said over 2,000 teachers assigned to help in the conduct of the election did not show up due to lack of trust in law enforcers’ abilities to protect them.

He said Monday’s election has the highest number of arrests for illegal campaigning, vote-buying, premature campaigning, and election related incidents, with the immediate response preventing the spread of violence.