Police say Phillipines peaceful, on high alert ahead of election

By Orowo Victoria Ojieh

Philippine police said on Sunday that the country’s overall situation ahead of the May 9 general election remained relatively peaceful, despite some shooting incidents and other poll-related offences that they consider to be isolated.

The Philippine police said they were on high alert as last-minute preparations continued for the country’s general election. On Monday, Filipinos will elect President Rodrigo Duterte’s successor, as well as a vice president, 12 senators, hundreds of congressmen, and thousands of governors, mayors, and provincial and municipal councillors.

The presidential race is a rematch between Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr., the country’s late dictator’s son and namesake, and incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo, a human rights lawyer who narrowly defeated him in the 2016 vice presidential election.

Three months of divisive campaigning ended on Saturday, with Marcos and Robredo making final bids to influence undecided voters with patriotic, uplifting messages.

Duterte did not endorse a presidential candidate, but his party backs frontrunners Marcos and his running mate, Duterte’s daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio. Armed Forces chief Lieutenant General Andres Centino told a media briefing with police officerin-charge Lieutenant General Vicente Danao and senior election commission officials that “We are ready for any contingencies”.

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“We are committed to ensure that we have a secure, accurate, free and fair elections tomorrow.” Political violence, cheating allegations and vote-buying ruin previous elections in the Philippines, but the police said they have recorded far fewer poll-related offences than in the 2016 general election and 2019 mid-term polls.

“Hopefully we can maintain this tranquility up to the last day of our electoral process,” Danao said. Guia Morris, principal at Jacinto Zamora Elementary School in Manila, said they have spent weeks cleaning and disinfecting the rooms where voting will be done.

“The teachers are all prepared, and they attended orientation and seminars about the election,” she said. Voting will be longer than usual to accommodate COVID-19 safety measures.

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