VARIOUS political parties are mobilizing their members and assets to conquer the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October, the group Consortium for Electoral Reform (CER) said on Friday.
The continued meddling by partisan politicians in what was supposed to be a non-partisan electoral exercise, the group added, could raise the possibility of increased tensions as the polls neared.
It stressed that the local elections would play a crucial role to predict the outcome of the 2016 presidential polls.
This was echoed by Commission on Elections ( Comelec) Commissioner Luie Tito Guia, who described the barangay polls as “personal and direct, almost face to face.”
He admitted that electoral violence cannot be ruled out entirely, especially in areas known for conflicting political clans.
“The important thing is to maintain the [commitment]of this consortium against election violence,” the poll body official explained.
CER Chairperson Ramon Casiple said that the council elections are actually a slugfest among mayors and municipal officials.
He narrated that mayors would inevitably wrestle for control over their turf by fielding their own wards.
He admitted that election violence would then be difficult to be avoided.
“It is now a partisan election. It is the mayor’s slate versus the opposition slate. The best way is to do more peace covenants,” Casiple reiterated.
The CER chief also added that peaceful election campaign activities are essential such as public fora, multi-sectoral conferences and peace movements throughout the upcoming poll period.
“The best way to prevent ERIs [election-related incidents] is to have numerous peace covenants. It should also include local officials, like the mayor and other town-level authorities, so that they would not meddle with the barangay elections,” Casiple pointed out.
During the May 13 polls, there were only 90 ERIs from the start of the election period until election day.