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BSKE deaths climb to 19

MANILA, Philippines — At least 19 people have been killed as a result of violence in connection with the recently concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Another deadly incident involving supporters of a defeated candidate for barangay chairman and the reelected candidate occurred in Mindanao before the end of election day last Monday, but this has yet to be validated and added to the tally.

“It’s 29 validated election-related violence, and those 29 incidents resulted in 19 deaths,” Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco said in an interview yesterday, adding that there were also 19 injuries.

Laudiangco said that the number of election-related incidents (ERIs) could still go up, considering that the BSKE period is until Nov. 29.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded a total of 244 ERIs, but he said that only 29 were confirmed as election-related while 111 were suspected and 104 were found to be non-ERIs upon verification.

The Comelec chief noted that most of the ERIs and deaths were recorded in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Despite the violent incidents that resulted in the death of 19 people, Comelec Commissioner Rey Bulay maintained that last Monday’s BSKE was peaceful and orderly.

Compared to past BSKEs, the number of reported ERIs for the recently concluded polls was much lower, according to the Comelec.

In a related development, a voter died at a hospital from a gunshot wound sustained as two groups supporting rival candidates clashed within the premises of a polling site in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao del Norte last Monday afternoon.

Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region director Brig. Gen. Allan Nobleza yesterday said the trouble that resulted in the death of Esmael Genta caused tension among teachers facilitating the elections in rooms at the Sarilikha High School in Barangay Semba in Datu Odin Sinsuat.

Gunshots reverberated through the scene as the two groups clashed. Genta, who was hit in the neck while running away, slumped face down on a stretch of the concrete highway near the school