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‘Reject violence’: Comelec echoes Duterte’s call for peaceful 2022 polls

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday echoed President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for a peaceful conduct of the May 2022 elections.

In a statement shared to reporters, the poll body appealed to aspiring candidates to reject violence and work together for an orderly democratic process.

“The President’s call for peaceful elections is a powerful reminder to all would-be candidates and their campaigns to reject violence,” the commission said.

Comelec personnel have been working “very closely” with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to ensure that the elections are free of violence, it added.

The poll body also stressed that it has the authority to take control of places with violent election incidents, which include immediate and direct supervision all over national officials, local government employees, and law enforcement agencies in the areas concerned.

On Friday night, President Rodrigo Duterte 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 before local leaders in Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao, a region notorious for political killings allegedly linked to private armies of powerful families.

“I’m pleading, almost praying, that people will really stick to the rule of law and avoid violence. If not, 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.

“In the nationwide election, I want to be peaceful where people can vote freely for their candidates and that the votes will be counted correctly,” he said. “That’s what everyone wants. Nobody wants trouble; nobody wants cheating.”

Duterte issued the warning in a speech during the inauguration of a new provincial hospital in Sultan Kudarat, a week before the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) of 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 AFP and the PNP 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 polls.

Others 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.

 

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