NO ELECTION-RELATED violence was reported in Sulu, a remote island province in the southwestern part of the Philippines that has been known as a lair of the bandit Abu Sayyaf group, according to a top military official.
“We are happy and proud to say that the election in Sulu is successful with zero election-related violent incident. In all areas we were deployed, election went on smoothly as scheduled and planned,” said Major General Ignatius N. Patrimonio, commander of the military-police Joint Task Force Sulu.
“The presence of the security forces has provided confidence to our people to vote and prevented those who have planned to conduct atrocities. This is remarkably the most peaceful election in the history of Sulu,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
He said there were three minor incidents involving heated verbal exchanges and fistfights, but responding security officers were able to immediately stabilize the situation.
“There has been such a big change in the security landscape in Sulu,” Mr. Patrimonio said.
In the last couple of years, there were several bombing incidents in the provincial capital Jolo involving the Islamic State-affiliated Abu Sayyaf.
The military said members of the joint task force performed election duties as well as strengthened operations against the group known for its kidnap-for-ransom activities.
In Cotabato City, the political center of the Bangsamoro region where political rivalry for local posts has been fierce, five people were arrested on the evening of May 9 for attempting to vote using other people’s identity.
The regional police office said the five were all caught in the same precinct for violating the Omnibus Election Code provision that prohibits voter substitution “for another whether with or without the latter’s knowledge and/or consent.”
The five suspects were identified as supposedly poll watchers.
Several election-related incidents at the weekend leading up to voting day prompted authorities to deploy Commission on Election-trained police officers to take over the functions of electoral boards. — MSJ