Philippines midterm elections kick off amid tight security

KUALA LUMPUR, Millions of Filipinos headed on Monday to the polling stations to elect candidates for the Senate, Parliament, Municipal and City councils in midterm elections amid tight security.

Police and army forces have been deployed in most parts of the country to secure the polling stations and security alert has been raised to the highest.

More than 160,000 policemen and 98,000 soldiers were deployed in more than 36,000 polling stations around the country.

Candidates in this election are competing for half of the 24 Senate seats, 240 seats in the House of Representatives and about 20,000 seats in municipal and civic councils.

The turnout is expected to be up to 80 percent, compared to the last midterm’s of 2013, at 77 percent.

Meanwhile, Police said two explosions were caused by two hand grenades in the Maguindanao province 960 kilometers south of Manila, without injuries.

The first blast took place near a highway just hours before polling stations opened, while the second blast occurred an hour after the voting began and 500 meters from a polling station, provincial police chief Col. Ronald Bryones said in a statement.

According to police, 14 people were killed and 14 others injured, including candidates and their supporters in attacks and clashes linked to the electoral competition, between January 13 and May 7.

The midterm elections are expected to boost Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s grip on power after he has campaigned hard to support his candidates in the past four months.

Despite domestic and international criticism of Duterte since he took power in 2016 because of his violent campaign against drug traffickers and his political stance on the regional dispute in the South China Sea, he has enjoyed great popularity within the country.

The results of municipal and city council elections are expected to be announced within hours after the ballot box closes this evening, while the winners will be announced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Friday.

Source: Kuwait News Agency