MANILA— A poll watchdog on Wednesday sounded alarm that election-related violence may worsen in the run up to the May 2022 elections, as a "culture of impunity" persists in the country.
Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said the "guns, goons and gold" climate of elections would still be the "order of the day" despite an automated election system.
"The problem here is the brazenness and the culture of impunity really permits our society and it involved not just our media practitioners but also ordinary people, even activists, judges, teachers. Name it, they're all victims of violence," he told ANC's "Rundown".
The risk of election violence will be especially high at the local level, said Arao, who is also a professor at the University of the Philippines.
"Position are hard-fought, most especially at the local level. The farther you are away from Manila, the farther away from the seat of power, the more brazen the violence becomes mainly because of the feudal structure of our society," he added.
On Tuesday night, a former vice mayor of Maragondon town was shot and killed in General Trias City, Cavite, police said.
Last week, an incumbent councilor and 2 others were found dead at a shop in Daraga, Albay.
Meanwhile, a son of lawmaker was shot dead at a quarry in Cagayan de Oro City.
For Liza Maza, spokesperson of Council for People's Development and Governance, violence has always been present in Philippine politics.
But she said it was more "worrisome" since the "climate of impunity," in which the victims had been "the leftists, the progressives and the opposition in general," had magnified under the present administration.
"That's why it is really worrisome that such violence will worsen in the run up to May in next year," Maza said.
Philippine National Police chief Lt. Gen. Dionardo Carlos has ordered probe into the killings of local politicians as he vowed to secure next year's polls.