THIRTEEN people were killed and three others were wounded in election-related violence Monday.
The worst incident occurred in Cavite province, where seven volunteer poll watchers in a convoy were shot dead by still unidentified suspects in Rosario town past 12 noon Monday.
The victims were on board several vehicles traversing Rosario town when they were fired upon by the assailants on a jeep and two motorcycles. An eighth poll watcher survived the attack but was wounded.
Cavite provincial police director Senior Supt. Eliseo Cruz said the convoy was on its way to check on a report of vote buying when it was ambushed.
In Guindulungan in Maguindanao, a voter was shot dead inside a polling station, police said.
A bystander was also killed when a grenade was launched at a market in Cotabato as people were casting their votes, police said.
In the nearby town of Sultan Kudarat, a stronghold of the nation’s biggest Muslim rebel group, 20 men forced their way into a voting center and carted away voting machines, police chief Senior Insp. Esmael Madin said.
In the northern province of Abra, armed supporters of rival mayoral candidates shot at each other, leaving one person dead and two wounded, provincial police spokeswoman Marcy Grace Marron said.
Police arrested two men and two women with guns after the fighting in the mountainous town of Lagayan, Marron added.
In Marawi City, two political supporters of the mayoralty candidate of the Liberal Party were shot dead by still unidentified assailants. Lanao del Sur provincial director Senior Supt. Rustom Duran said the victims joined the team of Board of Elections Inspectors transporting ballot boxes when the gunmen opened fire.
In Lanao del Norte, a group of armed men torched an elementary school building in Salvador town.
Three grenade explosions rocked the town hall of Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao, but voting was not interrupted, police said. Police said the rifle grenade attacks came in succession at past 1 p.m. Nobody was hurt in the attack. No one has claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Still, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the violence would not affect the result, noting they had taken place in known “hot spots” where extra security forces were in place.
Military spokesman Col. Noel Detoyato also played down the violence.
“There are isolated incidents. [They] had minimal effect on the conduct of the elections,” he said.
Fifteen people had been confirmed killed in pre-election violence since the start of the year, according to the national police poll monitoring task force.
Political violence is a longstanding problem, fueled by lax gun laws, corrupt security forces and political dynasties that often have their security forces.
Rodrigo Duterte, the tough-talking mayor of Davao City, is the favorite to win the presidential elections after campaigning on a platform of killing thousands of criminals that critics say will incite more violence. With AFP, PNA