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Election-related violence down by 60%: PNP

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Incidents of election-related violence this year declined by 60 percent as compared to the last elections, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said Tuesday.

PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde said a total of 43 incidents with 73 victims were recorded this year, as compared to the 106 incidents with 192 victims during the 2016 elections.

“This could be attributed to our relentless efforts in addressing risk factors such as reducing private armed groups (PAGs) as well as other gun-for-hire groups of some candidates,” Albayalde told reporters in a press briefing.

He said over 5,500 illegal firearms and other deadly weapons were confiscated by the PNP during the implementation of the election gun ban.

Albayalde said they need to boost their communication capability for a more efficient reporting of situations on the ground, as well as the coordination among the security forces.

The PNP chief also assured that they will further strengthen their capability to address vote-buying and selling activities in the next elections.

Albayalde said unlike the past years, the PNP now is more pro-active in apprehending personalities involved in vote buying.

He said as of 8 a.m., May 14, a total of 225 incidents of reported vote buying were recorded which resulted in the arrest of 441 violators. Eight minors who were also used for vote buying were rescued by the police.

Albayalde admitted there were reports of “massive” vote-buying during the May 13, 2019 elections.

“There are several factors on vote buying. First, our elections are automated. Seemingly, the Comelec (Commission on Elections) said the VCMs (vote counting machines) are incorruptible so the tendency is for the candidates to go directly to the voters. Another is that we haven’t seen any candidate getting suspended or investigated for alleged vote buying,” he said.

The PNP chief, however, admitted that allegations of vote-buying are hard to prove.

Albayalde commended the police forces for the successful conduct of elections.

“I thank, congratulate and commend the men and women of the PNP for your display of courage in the face of all odds, the sacrifices you have made during the entire election period, and for your hard work in ensuring the peaceful and safe conduct of the elections,” Albayalde said.

“There may have been incidents of violence, vote buying and harassment but these have all been resolutely and efficiently addressed by our police units together with the AFP and the Comelec,” he added. (PNA)