CHR records 14 election-related deaths

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — With only 31 days left before election day, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reported at least 14 deaths related to the 2016 polls.

CHR said on Friday (April 8) the cases of election-related killings were recorded from February, the month when the campaign period began, until March this year.

The victims come from Regions 4-A (seven deaths), Region 9 (three deaths), and the Cordillera Administrative Region with two deaths, and two other deaths still pending for CHR's confirmation.

The data came from CHR's monitoring team in partnership with other human rights groups and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Nonpartisan group Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan monitored the human-rights related violation this election season.

"We have the dubious record of having the worst election-related violence in the history of the world. That's November 23, 2009. So our effort is to actually bring that to zero," said CHR Chairman Jose Gascon.

There are also 49 instances of killings and harrassment that are believed to be politically motivated. These were recorded from June 2015 until March 2016. However, these reports, which came from concerned citizens and news organizations, still has to be validated by CHR.

Human rights officials said each report of election-related violence is fully investigated. Only when such reports are validated and confirmed will criminal charges be filed.

CHR noted that many are hesitant to come out for fear of being killed or harassed, adding it is ready to protect the identity of the complainants.

"Anonymity... Isa yun sa mga natukoy namin with Comelec na dahilan namin kung bakit halos wala ang naconvict na election offense under violence dahil hindi na nagpupursue ang mga biktima dahil sa pangamba na balikan sila. Kaya ang CHR na po ang magcocomplain," said Gascon.

Aside from killings, the group has also monitored other election-related human rights violations.

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said this includes vote buying, threats, detention, intimidation of supporters, and violence.

Election hotspots identified

The CHR identified the following cities and provinces as election hotspots:

NCR: Manila, Makati, Caloocan

Region 1: Pangasinan

Region 2: Cagayan

Region 3: Zambales

Region 4: Quezon Province, Palawan

Region 5: Sorsogon, Masbate

Region 6: Semirara Island, Iloilo

Region 7: Cebu

Region 8: Calbayog, Tacloban

Region 9: Zamboanga Del Sur

Region 10: Iligan, Marawi

Region 11: Compostela Valley

Region 12: Koronadal

Caraga: Agusan Del Norte

ARMM:  Maguindanao

The Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan has enlisted about 10,000 volunteers. Its leaders admitted they still need more so they can monitor down to the municipal level.

After the elections, the CHR will provide Comelec with all information needed for possible election offenses committed by any elected official.

The CHR and the Department of Justice may also file criminal charges against the suspect.