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Dozens Killed in Philippines Election Violence

Violence linked to village elections has left dozens dead in the Philippines. Police say that at least 26 candidates and 11 others have died in shootings. But the Philippine Commission on Elections says the number of deaths is far lower than in previous years.

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo thanked the public on Tuesday for what she called the generally peaceful village-level elections. The violence surrounding the vote has left dozens of people dead, although election officials say the problem is less than in previous years.

The Philippine Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police estimate between 37-66 people, including law enforcement officials, have perished in incidents across the Philippines.

Four bombing incidents were also reported before polls opened on Monday.

Rex Borra, spokesman for the Commission on Elections, describes the violence as a series of isolated incidents, when rivalries between opposing parties flared up.

"The violence incidents could not really be prevented because of the intense political rivalry and the inclusion of the Communist Party of the Philippines, who really want their candidates to win at all costs," he said. " Last week we had 75 violent incidents, but some of them were not election-related, so they reduce it to less than 50. "

The Philippines has a history of violent elections. Local political rivalries often are fierce, and guns are readily available in the country.

Commissioner Borra says the baranggay or village elections and the national youth council drew heavy public interest.

"Our voting turnout between 70 to 80 percent is comparatively high in the baranggay elections because in previous elections we have only around 64 percent turnout," he said.

Voting in a few other provinces was postponed due to flooding. The results of the election are expected to be announced late this week or early next week.