Election Officer Gunned Down in Central Philippines

Jeoffrey Maitem
Cotabato, Philippines
2021-11-19
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Election Officer Gunned Down in Central Philippines Philippine Marines monitor a polling center in Manila during the 2019 midterm elections where nearly two dozen people were killed nationwide, May 13, 2019.
AP

A gunman shot and killed an elections officer in the central Philippine town of Catarman, police said Friday, in the latest violence possibly linked to polls as the Southeast Asian country gears up for a general election in May 2022.

Officers identified the victim as James Mahanoy, 42, who was shot at close range on Thursday by an unknown assailant while heading home on a motorcycle in Catarman, Northern Samar province.

Mahanoy “was rushed to the nearest hospital but was proclaimed dead upon arrival by doctors,” local police said in the incident report.

The Commission on Elections in Manila confirmed the killing on Friday.

“The entire commission calls on the authorities to leave no stone unturned in its probe of the murder of Mahanoy and to ensure that those responsible are brought swiftly to justice,” commission spokesman James Jimenez told reporters in Manila.

In a separate statement on Friday, the Comelec (Commission on Elections) Employees’ Union, also condemned the killing of Mahanoy, who served as election officer of Lope de Vega town.

“We demand no less than justice and reiterate our call for greater protection for Comelec employees as we go all-out in our preparations for the upcoming national and local elections,” union president Mac Ramirez said.

The shooting is the second known incident potentially tied to the 2022 elections, police said, although investigators have not established motives for either killing.

Mayor’s son, employee killed

Last week, a mayoral candidate’s son and a worker at a quarry owned by the politician’s family in Cagayan de Oro in the southern Philippines were killed in what could be the first politically motivated killings ahead of the polls.

Roland Sherwin Uy, 45, the son of Roland Uy, a congressman leaving the legislature and running for mayor of Cagayan de Oro City, and his employee, Samuel Tabalan, 75, were at the family-owned quarry business in the city when a lone suspect attacked them on Nov. 11.

Gun violence and politics-related killings are common during electoral seasons in Southeast Asian countries. In 2019, 23 people were killed and 50 injured during Philippine mid-term polls and as many as 50 people died in poll-related violence during the 2016 presidential election, according to statistics from the national police.

Police had earlier said they were looking at dismantling 150 known “private armed groups” nationwide known to be controlled by politicians. 

The Philippines will hold elections next year to choose a successor for President Rodrigo Duterte and his deputy, to fill 12 of the 24 seats in the Senate, all 316 House seats and thousands of official posts ranging from provincial governors to town mayors and councilors.

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