Two killed in election-related violence in Central Philippines

15:47, March 16, 2010      

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Two political supporters were killed by unidentified armed men in two separate election-related incidents in Masbate Province, Central Philippines, the military said on Tuesday.

Maj. Harold Cabunoc, spokesman of the Philippine Army's 9th Infantry Division, said the Jose Frias of Busing village in San Pascual town was shot to death by the suspects around 10 p.m. Sunday.

At around 1:30 p.m. Monday, Cabunoc said Ireneo Lumahog, 51, of Tubog village in Pio V. Corpuz town was also shot to death by two heavily-armed men. Cabunoc said Lumahog is a supporter of an unnamed politician.

The twin killing occurred despite the Feb. 17 signing of a peace covenant among different political personalities in the province. The covenant signing followed a multi-sectoral forum for honest, orderly and peaceful elections.

"The series of election-related violent incidents occurred despite the efforts of STF (Special Task Force) Masbate and all stakeholders to forge a peace covenant and advocacy for an honest, orderly and peaceful elections in the province," he said.

The political situation in Masbate has earlier alarmed Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales due to the series of political-related killings. He said Masbate is under a "man-made disaster" and its communities are "terrorized."

Security officials say more than a third of the country's 1,600 cities and towns are prone to election violence due to the presence of separatist rebels, Islamic militants, and armed groups of political warlords.

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