Pinoys must be vigilant in safeguarding elections as more violence ahead: expert


Posted at Nov 22 2021 02:44 PM

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MANILA – Filipinos must be vigilant in safeguarding the electoral processes, an expert said, as he noted that election-related incidents of violence tend to increase in the Philippines in the lead-up to the polls.

“If you are looking at elections in general, it is important for people to take note, to be observant, to be vigilant on what is happening around them. Of course, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” said Dr. Joseph Reyes, a professor at the Lund University in Sweden.

“We have to always be ready and we also need to appreciate our democratic processes, our election. So we have to safeguard it. Our votes matter,” he added.

“It doesn’t have to be as visceral as a bombing or as an assassination. But even, let’s say, the fraudulent events could have as much as a damaging effect to the country’s democracy as those which, say, are just violent.”

Reyes and a colleague from the University of Portsmouth in England have conducted a study, in which they found that more election-related incidents of violence in the Philippines happen closer to election day. 

“In a nutshell, we found that election violence in the Philippines--similar to other countries as well--occur more often closer to the election day,” he said.

“We saw that the most numerous attacks are assassinations and carried out by unknown perpetrators,” he added.

Reyes also said that there seems to be an increasing trend of election-related incidents of violence moving from rural areas to urban areas.

“We can see that there’s increasing frequencies in terms of location, and there is a trend of violence, moving from rural area towards more of major cities or the capital,” he said.

“And in terms of the timing, we see that there is increasing violence, globally and particularly with the Philippines, especially near elections, pre-election periods…which might be indicative of authoritarians, despots, dictators learning and even mimicking each other, in order to, let’s say, disrupt democratic electoral processes.”

Reyes said it is important for the Philippines to have a database on election-related incidents of violence in order to help prevent attacks from occurring in the future. 

“One of the main recommendations we have is of course…to create a more refined, let’s say a more detailed database specially within the country, in the Philippines, that highlights the need for security in terms of not just the election but essentially, different types of attacks, so in a way you have transparency and accountability on what’s happening in the country.”

“This way, you track not only statistics but also the important details such as the reasoning and even the actions perhaps that was done, in order to mitigate future events or attacks from occurring and even hopefully working towards more inclusive solutions based on the data and the evidence that is available,” he said.

Last Thursday, the election officer of the municipality of Lope de Vega was shot dead by an unidentified man in Northern Samar.

Last Tuesday, a former vice mayor of Maragondon town was shot and killed in General Trias City, Cavite. The week before that, an incumbent councilor and 2 others were found dead at a shop in Daraga, Albay.

--ANC, 22 November 2021