MANILA: The Philippine military said on Sunday more than 40,000 troops will be deployed to prevent disruption in the May 9 election, when tens of millions of Filipinos are expected to cast their ballots.
In a country with historically high turnouts, more than 67 million Filipinos have registered to vote in the upcoming elections to choose the successor to President Rodrigo Duterte. They will also elect a vice president, around 300 lawmakers and 18,000 local government officials, including provincial governors and town mayors.
The Philippines poll commission, known as Comelec, has marked more than a hundred “areas of grave concern” across the archipelagic country.
Col. Ramon Zagala, spokesman for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the military is working together with the Philippine National Police to ensure security during the elections.
"Right now, we allocated 40,000 troops just for election duties and … we can even commit more,” Zagala told Arab News.
“There are 114 towns and 15 cities that Comelec identified as areas of grave concern that we will focus on.”
Violence has been a recurring concern during Philippine polls, which have been one of the deadliest periods in the country’s politics, especially in the south where warlord-politicians often have their own private armies.
Zagala said there are currently no major threats to the elections, but that authorities will “continue to monitor and continuously conduct checkpoints.”
The Philippine military is also monitoring local threats, including the New People’s Army, Abu Sayyaf Group, and Maute Group.
“We are monitoring the areas where these groups are based,” Zagala said.
One of the deadliest election-related incidents in the country was the Maguindanao massacre that took place in November 2009, ahead of the presidential vote in 2010. It claimed 58 lives — politicians, their supporters, and at least 32 journalists.
The incident triggered widespread condemnation, but the region continues to be a hotspot where violence is expected during the election cycle.