Philippine police warned Saturday that Maoist rebels would step up violent attacks ahead of the May 10 general elections, with politicians and isolated police posts seen as prime targets.
Police chief Jesus Verzosa said the New People’s Army (NPA) sought to derail the democratic process as well as raise funds by extorting money from candidates who are threatened with harm if they refused to pay up.
“The recent atrocities committed by (the NPA) against candidates, civilians and the public in general indicate their deliberate effort to exploit (police and military) focus on election duties,” he said in a statement.
“In this connection, all commanders are directed to increase the alert level of police stations, camps, outposts … and other vital installations.”
A running police tally said more than 30 people have been killed so far in more than 70 “election-related incidents” since campaigning kicked off on February 9.
Aside from NPA rebels, hired guns employed by rival politicians were also suspected in other attacks.
In the latest reported incident, three household staff of a southern Philippines municipal mayor were injured late Friday when his house was fired on by unknown gunmen.
Police guarding Mayor Teodoro Sinaca of the southern town of Malimono fired back and the official was unharmed, a police report said. The suspects escaped.
The NPA has been waging a 41-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.
In March the military said the 5,000-member NPA was charging up to 20 million pesos (435,000 dollars) in so-called “permit-to-campaign” fees for candidates running for posts from municipal councillor to president.