Election violence to trigger clan violence says NGO

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FRAUD and violence in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) during the recently concluded national elections will lead to a multitude of conflicts, a UK-based non-government organization reported.

International Alert’s post election bulletin said that the violence that attended the recent elections is expected to create new conflicts as political differences mutate into identity-based conflict.

“Indeed, fights between politicians are re-erupting as fights between clans,” said the report.

This, it said, is expected to be seen in critical areas such as Lanao del Sur, especially in Marawi, and in Maguindanao, especially in Cotabato City.

The group’s critical events monitoring system recorded 144 reports of election-related incidents from May 11 to 13 — 108 of these on May 13, election day itself — in the provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao including Cotabato City, parts of North Cotabato, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

Most of these election-related incidents involved rivalry between clans that could led to revenge killing in the future.

“The practice of exacting revenge makes grudges and feuds between individuals and families linger and fester, and disagreement over the election results by rivals or promises not kept between allies of convenience will beget new tensions and violence,” the group reported.

International Alert noted that “local demand for more effective means to monitor and respond to conflict will rise in response to the flash points that occurred before, during, and after the elections in these places.”

The group noted that while there were fewer shooting incidents between rival candidates and supporters this year compared to previous elections, grenades and improvised explosive devices were used to scare the public this time around.

“Instead, grenades and improvised explosive devices went off to scare voters and to preoccupy the police and military deputized by the Commission on Elections to ensure order during the polls,” said International Alert.

Another problem cited by the group was the alleged disenfranchisement and fraud committed by poll watchers and barangay officials in BARMM.

“There were more blatant instances of vote-rigging… according to reports. Barangay officials partial for certain candidates reportedly stopped voters perceived to support the other candidates from entering the polling precincts and undertook the shading of ballots themselves,” said the report.

It added, “poll watchers also reportedly checked the entry of voters to the precincts by letting in only those who would vote for their candidates. In other instances, they allegedly checked how the ballots were shaded.”

The group also said that in the worst cases, poll watchers used intimidation to force voters to vote for their candidates. — Vince Angelo C. Ferreras