By Joseph Almer Pedrajas
Malabon City is no longer an election hotspot.
Lawyer Winston Gaffud, Malabon City elections officer, confirmed this, following the still zero- casualty record, and the absence of any threat and violence in the city, four days before the May 2019 mid-term elections.
Unlike in the previous May 2016 elections when two councilors, supporters of a mayoralty candidate, were shot dead, Gaffud said that there was still no election-related violent incident reported and that there was no basis to tag the city as an election hotspot.
In February, the Philippine National Police (PNP) included Malabon in its list of election hotspots, with yellow rating – or second to the lowest level of security concern.
However, in an interview with the Manila Bulletin, P/Col. Jessie Tamayao, Malabon City police chief, said that Malabon’s security concern has already been downgraded to green—the lowest category level of security concern.
The killing of Councilor Dante Sih last month was just “suspected” election-related violence incident, Tamayao said. The motive behind this was rather a personal one because of his private activities, Gaffud added.
Sih was shot dead at a market in Barangay Panghulo last April. A letter from an alleged Communist group was left at the crime scene, saying Sih was assassinated for extorting money from vendors, but his family has denied this.
Significant presence of armies
Gaffud said that the increased presence of the PNP and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in Malabon may have led to the absence of election-related violence in the city.
As of press time, at least 63 army troops are already deployed in the city, while several checkpoints have also gone up.
Gaffud also said that they launched an anti-bribery campaign through posters, motorcade, and social media.
“Why this anti-bribery campaign? Because bribery perpetuates the cycle of corruption…and we want to end [that],” he said.
“We want to practice a Malayang Halalan—the theme of this year’s election. Malaya in English is free. We want to have an election which is free of coercion, violence and bribery,” Gaffud added.