Comelec refutes report saying 2023 BSKE ‘bloodiest election in past decade’ in Mindanao autonomous region

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 2) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday refuted the report saying that the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) was the “bloodiest election in the past decade” in autonomous region in Mindanao.

“I would like to contest that statement…they even included incidents which are not necessarily related to the election,” Comelec Chairman George Garcia told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

The Council for Climate and Conflict Action Asia said it has monitored 200 reports of critical events across provinces within the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). These include incidents of shooting, stabbing, hacking, riots and fistfights, as well as harassment and intimidation of voters and candidates' supporters.

Garcia said the Comelec only recorded 19 election-related deaths and 29 election-related violence, and these were verified by the Philippine National Police.

While such incidents occurred, the Comelec chief maintained the recent polls were peaceful.

“We really condemn this and this will be an eye-opener on the part of Comelec for us to be able to be prepared by next election,” he added.

Garcia stressed that authorities must also double their efforts for the preparations for the 2025 elections.

During the village-level polls, over 300,000 government security personnel were deployed across the country.

Comelec spokesperson Rex Laudiangco said the recent BSKE logged the highest number of arrests for illegal campaigning, vote-buying, premature campaigning, and election related incidents, with the immediate response preventing the spread of violence.