Local officials influencing barangay polls — DILG

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — The midterm polls are still be next year but this early some local officials are trying to exert influence on the outcome of Monday's barangay elections, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) said.

"Tinatawag sila ng mayor nila or congressman or ano, tapos pinaaatras sila para ang tatakbo nalang, iyon nalang bata ng mayor, bata ng congressman, bata ng ano. Minsan, pagsasabihan sila, minsan may monetary consideration [The mayor or congressman will call them to their offices and then they are being asked to drop out of race in favor of the official's bet. Sometimes, there is monetary consideration.]," said Interior Undersecretary Martin Diño.

He said many harassment reports came from Metro Manila and Mindanao. The DILG has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to classify more areas as election hotspots.

Comelec has so far identified 7,915 election hotspots. Of his number, the 597 are red hotspots, 4,970 orange hotspots, and 2,071 yellow hotspots.

The "red spots" refer to areas which are in "critical situation," orange have "presence of armed groups and "organized movements outside the law," while "yellow spots" refer to places "with history of political unrest."

Vote buying

The DILG said it has received reports that local officials also finance barangay candidates to buy votes. Dino said these officials want their candidates to win in the barangay elections to establish grassroots support for the midterm elections.

"When you become the barangay captain, you have influence over the barangay. You become the asset of the mayor, the congressman or governor who helped you win. Of course, the votes coming from the barangay are essential for them to win in the upcoming national and local elections," Diño said in Filipino.

Dino warned barangay candidates that getting into a deal with incumbent officials to drop out of the race or fund vote-buying will backfire on the community. He said the candidates are likely to protect illegal drug peddling in the barangays if they get elected.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will be deploying around 3,000 police personnel nationwide on election day on May 14. It urged the public to report vote-buying or committing other election violations to the police.

PNP Spokesman John Bulalacao said that apart from police personnel stationed in polling precincts, there will also be officers on patrol.

From April 14-May 9, the PNP said there have been 20 election-related incidents and 24 reported casualties.