MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday called on the public to “stick to the rule of law and avoid violence” in the 2022 national elections.
Duterte, in his speech after the inauguration of the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital in Isulan town, said that he wants peaceful elections next year.
“There will be votes and it will be counted correctly. Nobody wants trouble, nobody wants cheating. Sabi ko, nakikiusap na ako. I’m pleading, almost praying, that people will really stick to the rule of law and avoid violence,” he said.
The President did not indicate or mention a particular group, or whether there have been intelligence reports on any organization planning to use violence or force to influence the results of the national polls.
But he warned that he may call on the military to ensure the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections.
“Kasi kapag hindi, unahan ko na kayo, I will be forced to use the might of the military, not for any purpose but to see to it that the election is peaceful and violence-free. 'Yan ang hingi ko, not only here but all places in the Philippines,” said Duterte, who earlier formally accepted a nomination to run for vice president in next year's elections.
“Either we have an election that is free, or I will use the military to see that the elections are free. The military is the guardian of our country, and I could call them anytime to see to it that people are protected and elections freely orderly exercised,” he added.
Violence and cheating tactics have marred past elections in some areas in the Philippines. In 2018, data from the Philippine National Police showed the number of politically motivated killings doubled compared to 2017 as the 2018 election period drew nearer.
Among those recorded were the killings of General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote; Trece Martires, Cavite Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan (both killed in July 2018); Buenavista Bohol Mayor Ronald Tirol in May 2018; and Ronda, Cebu Vice Mayor Jonnah John Ungab in February 2018.