Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (centre) raises the hands of senatorial candidates during the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas Bayan (PDP-LABAN) in Manila, ahead of the mid-term elections on May 13. — AFP/VNA Photo
MANILA — Voting got under way in the Philippines' midterm elections on Monday, three years after President Rodrigo Duterte won power.
The elections will decide who will occupy twelve seats in the Senate, or half of the upper house of parliament, as well as 243 district seats and 61 other seats for party-list organisations in the House of Representatives.
Polling precincts nationwide opened at 6am and will close at 6pm. Over 61 million people are registered to vote. Also being contested are 17,750 provincial-, municipal- and city-level positions across the country.
Initial results are likely to be known as early as late Monday night. The Commission on Elections said official results will be announced in a few days.
Malacañang on Friday cautioned “those who have sinister plans and evil machinations” in the May 13 midterm elections to stop their scheme or they would be prosecuted.
President Spokesperson Salvador Panelo issued the “stern warning” as he urged “candidates across the political spectrum” to ask their supporters to observe an honest and peaceful elections.
He cited that “concerns and apprehensions have been raised by various quarters relative to the conduct of the coming elections” but assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte “has put in place measures designed to determine if cheating has been committed in the polls.”
“We are thus issuing a stern warning to those who have sinister plans and evil machinations of thwarting the will of the electorate to abandon them,” he said in a statement. “Any violator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No one will be spared regardless of their political affiliation or station in life,” he added.
He urged Filipino voters to exercise their right to suffrage as he called on candidates to help ensure a peaceful and credible elections.
“We enjoin all Filipinos who are eligible to vote to participate in this healthy democratic exercise as we call on all candidates across the political spectrum to ask their supporters to observe an honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections reflective of the people’s genuine will,” he said.
At least three explosions rocked city of Cotabato and neighboring Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines a few hours before a national midterm election, military and police authorities said on Monday.
Lieutenant Teofisto Ferrer of the Cotabato City police said the first explosion occurred around 10.15pm local time on Sunday night just outside the Cotabato City hall compound.
Ferrer said the explosion was caused by a mortar fired by a still unknown suspect using a grenade launcher. The second explosion happened around 1am local time on Monday when a fragmentation grenade exploded through a municipal hall in Datu Odin Sinsuat town in Maguindanao province.
Several hours later, an explosion, caused by a still undetermined type of explosive, was recorded also in Datu Odin Sinsuat town of Maguindanao around 7.20am local time, according to Noel Detoyato, Public Affairs chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
No one was killed or injured in all the incidents until now.
The Philippine military and police are on the alert to ensure that the conduct on the elections will be peaceful and orderly. — KYODO/THE PHILIPPINE INQUIRER/XINHUA