MANILA, Philippines — There were a total of 299 casualties in the May 14 local elections this year, statistics from the Philippine National Police (PNP) said.
According to the PNP figures on election-related violent incidents (ERVI), a total of 121 people died during this year’s election period from January 14 to June 13.
Out of this number, 37 were either politicians or candidates. A total of 63 supporters of candidates and civilians caught in the crossfire were killed.
Two persons missing
A total of 176 people were injured and two persons went missing in 229 violent incidents, the figures from the PNP said.
Also, 20 policemen and one soldier were killed in security operations during the elections. A total of 34 policemen and two soldiers were injured.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer’s own tally listed around 140 dead.
There were 189 fatalities in 2004 and 132 in 2001.
Elections in the country, especially local elections, have traditionally been violent affairs.
Private armed groups
Hotly contested electoral contests are fueled by a proliferation of firearms and the existence of private armed groups funded mostly by local politicians. The PNP counted 36 private armed groups operating around the country.
A total of nine areas were placed on the PNP’s list of hotspots. Five areas were placed under Comelec control. These are San Carlos City, Abra, Nueva Ecija, Valencia in Bukidnon and Bantayan Island in Cebu.
The PNP managed to confiscate around 2,000 guns and arrested their owners for carrying their firearms without permits from the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The election body imposed a gun ban during the election period.
The PNP was deputized to secure the 2004 elections, a job traditionally given to the military. But in October last year, officials from the Comelec and the Department of National Defense signed a memorandum limiting the involvement of the military in the elections. The agreement was an offshoot of the “Hello Garci” controversy.
Nonetheless, some military units were used to secure certain areas, mostly in the south, with the permission of the Comelec.
The PNP had asked a P600-million budget for the security of the 2004 elections but got only around half of the amount.