President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday promised a peaceful and orderly nationwide election come May 2022, saying he would use military force to suppress violence and security threats.
The President struck a typically combative tone when he spoke of terrorism and violence during his speech in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, a region notorious for deadly election violence allegedly linked to private armies of political clans.
“I’m pleading, almost praying, that people will really stick to the rule of law and avoid violence. Pag hindi, unahan ko na kayo, then I will be forced to use the might of the military, not for any purpose, but to see to it that the election is peaceful and violence-free,” Duterte said.
“Either we have an election that is free or I will use the military to say that the election is free,” the commander in chief added.
Duterte also stressed that he wanted all votes to be counted correctly.
“Sa election, gusto ko sa buong Pilipinas na peaceful and people can vote freely for their candidates and that the votes will be counted correctly. ‘Yun lang naman ang gusto ng lahat, eh. Nobody wants trouble; nobody wants cheating,” he said.
Duterte’s warning came a week ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) of all public office aspirants.
The filing of COCs would be held from 1 to 8 October. Only one person would be allowed to accompany each aspirant during the period, as part of the health protocols against Covid-19.
More than 18,000 positions are up for grabs in the next election, including the presidency, the vice presidency, and the 12 Senate seats.
Duterte himself is seeking a national post in 2022, as he accepted the nomination of the ruling PDP Laban for him to run for vice president.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police began preparations for the upcoming national and local election, especially in areas with a high presence of armed groups.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, for one, has long been accused of extorting money from politicians in exchange for access in areas where they usually operate — an allegation which has been denied by the organization.
At least 30 people have been killed in election-related incidents during the 2019 midterm elections, three years after Duterte took office.
More people have been involved in election-related violence, which can range from intimidation and physical harm to kidnapping and murder, as well as arson and bombings.