Dispelling security concerns for the upcoming village polls, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assures the public of a peaceful and orderly Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSKE) 2018 Elections.
DILG Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said during a press conference that the forthcoming BSKE 2018 is expected to be a peaceful and orderly endeavor compared to the village elections staged in the past.
"Sa tingin po namin ay mas magiging mapayapa itong BSKE because the trend has been going down from 2010 to 2013 up to this time. The good news is pababa ng pababa ang election-related violent incidents (ERVIs) during the barangay and SK elections," said Malaya.
He explained that in the last 2013 BSKE, there were only 57 reported incidents in connection to the elections, majority of which transpired in Mindanao. In the 2010 elections, there were 98 reported election-relatedincidents. “Thus, official reports from the field show a clear declining trend in the past two barangay elections,” he said.
He further expounded that the upcoming elections is fairly different from the previous ones, using Mindanao as example where Martial Law is currently being enforced hence entailing a more stringent police presence.
"Mindanao is under Martial Law, so I am expecting there is greater police presence, there is greater military presence, and security forces are deployed all over Mindanao, thus it would not be as intense as the last election," he said.
The DILG Spokesperson also cited that factors like an overall decrease of crime volume in the country, the prevailing Martial Law in Mindanao, the revived peace talks between the government and Communist rebels and the impending passage of the Bangsamoro Basic Law will contribute to a peaceful conduct of BSKE 2018.
"Most of the time, the presence of lawless elements such as armed groups, makes barangay election heated. But if security measures are in place, which we expect to happen, we are confident that the downward trend in terms of violence will continue," said Malaya.
The DILG Spokesperson, however, didn't discount the fact that there are areas prone to election violence or "election hotspots" where the presence of the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be concentrated. Placing those election hotspots under the jurisdiction of Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also an option, according to Malaya.
Meanwhile, the PNP has released the Guidelines and Procedure for a Secure and Fair Synchronized BSKE 2018 (SAFE 2018) which shall provide a comprehensive security coverage in BSKE in partnership with Comelec, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and other government agencies.
Under the said Guidelines, all PNP units are on alert during the election period and shall ensure compliance of barangay officials with pertinent laws and rules before, during, and after elections; oversee and enforce peace and order measures for the elections; and promote well-informed voting and active participation of people in the elections to combat vote-buying and other related illegal activities.
No elections in Marawi
In the same press conference, Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez confirmed the suspension of the BSKE in Marawi saying that an assessment will take place to gauge if said suspension can already be lifted after three months.
He also said that the incumbent officers will be on hold over status until the result of the assessment comes out.
DILG Spokesperson Malaya added that "Marawi is a special case" and that the Bangon Marawi Task Force is currently undertaking efforts to rehabilitate the city.