Deadly Poll: Philippines village election death toll now at 33

Photo from ABS-CBN News.

Barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council or SK) elections are being held all over the Philippines today, and while they’re the government’s smallest administrative divisions, competition between candidates is just as fierce — if not more — than during national elections.

Earlier today, the Philippine National Police said that 33 people have died in suspected election-related incidents. Newly assigned PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde told reporters that 19 people have also been wounded.

While village elections have lower stakes than national ones, they can also get heated because issues between candidates tend to be very personal.

The most high-profile killing in this year’s village elections is that of former La Union Congressperson Eufranio Eriguel, who was shot and killed on Saturday along with his two bodyguards.

According to The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Eriguel was addressing the crowd during the final political rally of candidates in Barangay Capas, Agoo, La Union, when gunmen began shooting at the stage with assault rifles and handguns.

The PNP is also investigating an ambush attempt yesterday on Daanbantayan, Cebu, Mayor Vicente Loot, who survived after gunmen opened fire as he arrived with his family at a Daanbantayan port. According to AFP, four were wounded in the incident.

Loot was included in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s narco-list. In December, the president threatened to kill the mayor for “[using the] government for wrongdoing.”

The government has implemented a gun and liquor ban to help keep peace and order during the election season, however, many have simply ignored the directive.

According to Albayalde, 118 people have been identified as suspects in this year’s election attacks. Seventy-five are still unidentified while 28 are known but remain at-large. Six suspects have been arrested and nine already released.

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