Comelec officer survives ambush in Basilan

An officer of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) survived an ambush in Basilan on Monday, October 11, according to the Philippine National Police (PNP). 

In a statement Tuesday, October 12, the PNP said Aknam Hasim, a Comelec officer in Maluso town in Basilan, sustained gunshot wounds from the attack around 7:25 pm in Calle Posporo, Barangay San Rafael, Isabela City, on Monday. 

The attack happened exactly three days after the end of the filing of candidacy for political aspirants both for national and local positions. Based on the initial report, Hasim was inside his vehicle when unidentified assailants fired on his vehicle. 

According to the police, the victim was immediately brought to the Basilan Community Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment. After the incident, PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said the police will coordinate with the Comelec to ensure protection of the commission’s employees and officers ahead of the 2022 polls. 

Makikipag-ugnayan din tayo sa liderato ng Commission on Elections upang pag-usapan kung paano makakatulong ang inyong PNP sa seguridad ng mga opisyal ng Comelec lalo na sa mga probinsya na may history ng election violence,” Eleazar said. 

(We will also cooperate with the authorities of the Comelec to discuss what could the PNP contribute in securing Comelec officials, especially in provinces with a history of election violence.) 

The PNP chief added that he already instructed the Zamboanga Peninsula police to probe the shooting incident. 

Inatasan ko na ang regional director ng Police Regional Office 9 na magsagawa ng malalimang imbestigasyon sa kasong ito upang mapanagot ang may kagagawan sa tangkang pagpatay sa election officer ng Maluso, Basilan. Kasabay sa aking utos ang pagbibigay ng proteksyon sa kanya,” Eleazar added. 

(I already instructed the regional director of the Police Regional Office 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) to conduct a deep probe into the case to ensure that the assailant will be punished, following his/her attempt to kill an election officer of Maluso, Basilan. I also ordered the police to give protection to the victim.)

In a Facebook post, Comelec Employees’ Union (Comele-EU) President Mac Ramirez said they vehemently condemned the violence and called for the protection of all Comelec employees. 

“The COMELEC-EU, likewise, calls for protection for COMELEC employees nationwide who - as election fever continues to heat up - risk their lives and limb daily so that the peoples' right to suffrage are protected and upheld,” Ramirez said. 

During the 2019 election season, the Comelec had recorded 43 incidents of election violence, with 20 people killed from December 2018 to May 13, 2019. Meanwhile, the poll body also recorded a total of 24 individuals injured from the same period. – Rappler.com