Tighter security measures have been put in place in Cotabato City following several election-related incidents on the weekend before the May 9 elections. — POLICE REGIONAL OFFICE-BANGSAMORO REGION 

REPORTED incidents during this years election period, which started in the second week of January, reached 71 including 16 that have been confirmed to be election-related as of Monday morning, according to the police.  

Philippine National Police Spokesperson Jean S. Fajardo said in a media briefing that of the total, 41 have been determined to be non-election related while 14 are still being investigated.   

An election-related violence is defined as an incident involving candidates or their supporters and family members, and the motive is to disrupt or influence the electoral exercise, Ms. Fajardo explained.   

She said this years record is still lower than the 133 confirmed election-related incidents in the 2016 presidential election and 60 in the 2019 mid-term polls.  

Police Major General Valerian T. De Leon, deputy commander of the police election task force, said in the same briefing that the overall situation across the country remained peaceful and they were focusing on areas declared under the Commission on Electionscontrol. 

These are: Pilar in Abra province; the entire province of Misamis Occidental; Marawi City and the towns of Tubaran, Malabang, and Maguing in Lanao del Sur; and the towns of Buluan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Datu Piang, Mangudadatu, Pandag, and Sultan Kudarat in Maguindanao.   

Cotabato City, the political center of the Bangsamoro region, has also been placed under tight watch following several election-related incidents over the weekend up to Monday morning.   

About 500 trained police officers have been assigned to take over the functions of the electoral boards in several voting precincts of the city, where tensions have been high due to intense political rivalry among candidates.   

The Bangsamoro regional police office, in a statement on Monday, said security forces have also increased the checkpoints and patrol operations around the city.”   

Further, intensified police visibility and Quick Reaction Teams were also in placed for immediate response when necessary,it said. MSJ