Voting continues in Philippines amid violence (Ld)

Manila, May 9 (IANS) Voting in the Philippines to elect a new President some 18,000 other officials continued on Monday, despite the eruption of violence that killed three people and injured nine others.

A total of 37,211 polling centres across the country opened at 6 a.m. for over 65.7 million eligible voters. The centres will close at 7 p.m., reports Xinhua news agency.

Also to be elected are the Vice President, 12 Senators, more than 300 members of the House of Representatives, and over 17,000 local officials.

Presidential candidate frontrunner and former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., 64, who is the son of late President Ferdinand Marcos, cast his vote in the morning at the Mariano Marcos Memorial Elementary School in Batac City, Ilocos Norte province.

His main rival and incumbent Vice President Maria Leonor Robredo, 57, voted in her hometown of Naga City of Bicol region.

She expressed hope that voting and counting will be peaceful and credible.

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, 43, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte and frontrunner of the Vice Presidential race, cast her ballot inside a high school in her hometown of Davao City on Mindanao island.

As voting process continues, violence erupted mainly in southern Philippines.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Ano said three people were killed and one injured in a shooting incident near a polling centre in Maguindanao province.

He said attackers opened fire at the members of village peacekeepers in Buluan town.

The Commission on Elections also reported another strafing incident on Monday morning in Sumisip town in Basilan province.

The poll body said there were no casualties in the attack.

Police reported an improvised explosive device went off at around 9.40 a.m. near a polling centre in Kabacan town in Cotabato province. There were no casualties in the blast that delayed the voting process.

Earlier Monday, police also reported at least eight persons were injured in grenade explosions in Maguindanao province on Sunday night, the eve of the voting.

Police said the explosions hit Datu Unsay town, and another one hit nearby Shariff Aguak town.

No group has claimed responsibility for the explosions.

Police are looking into the attacks in the areas tagged as “hot spots”.

Authorities said the eruption of violence in these areas have not disrupted the voting process.

The government has put 45,000 soldiers and 60,000 police officers in charge of maintaining order during the elections.

An additional 12,000 police force is on stand-by if violence breaks out in some areas.

The Commission on Election has tagged 104 municipalities and 14 cities as “hot spots” due to armed groups and intense political rivalry, which could trigger election violence.