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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Police have identified more than 80 candidates in Northern Mindanao who are at risk of becoming victims of electoral violence in the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 30.
Philippine National Police-Northern Mindanao spokesperson Major Joanne Navarro said there were more than a dozen candidates on the PNP’s high-risk category list. Seven of them are in Lanao del Norte, three in Misamis Occidental, two in Bukidnon, and one in Misamis Oriental.
Navarro said the police intelligence unit in the region has also identified 70 other candidates under threat, who are considered to be in the medium-risk category in the upcoming elections.
She said the candidates on the medium-risk list were in Bukidnon (27), Misamis Occidental (19), Misamis Oriental (18), Lanao del Norte (3), and Iligan City (2).
“The campaigning will be intense since many of the candidates are neighbors and friends,” Navarro said during a voters’ education seminar organized by the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and the Hanns Seidel Foundation on Saturday, September 16.
Navarro said the police would deploy more than 7,500 policemen, including bomb disposal experts and combat officers, throughout the nine cities, five provinces, 84 municipalities, and 2,022 barangays in Region X.
“We will be canceling all leaves of absence for policemen starting next month,” Navarro said.
Meanwhile, Commission on Elections-Bukidnon supervisor Aleli Ramirez expressed concerns that unscrupulous individuals could take advantage of the manual voting on October 30.
“It is essential that we remain vigilant and catch the culprits,” Ramirez said.
Lawyer and election expert Florentino Dumlao Jr. raised the possibility of the old cheating scheme referred to as Cadena de Amor being revived during the October elections.
Dumlao said the scheme begins with the first voter in the chain receiving a ballot, pretending to fill it out, and then inserting a fake one into the ballot box.
“That voter would give the real ballot to the next voter, who would insert it into the ballot box.
The voter would give their ballot to the next, and the chain is now formed,” Dumlao said.
Dumlao also advised election watchdogs to keep an eye on and follow the money trail of candidates who typically start withdrawing their money weeks before October 30. – Rappler.com