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Barangay vote buying, violence mar campaign

MANILA, Philippines — Widespread vote buying, deadly violence and disinformation marred the campaign as the country prepared for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls, officials reported yesterday.

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MANILA, Philippines — Widespread vote buying, deadly violence and disinformation marred the campaign as the country prepared for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls, officials reported yesterday.

Votes were being bought by as much as P3,000 per person, according to reports reaching the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

DILG Undersecretary for barangay affairs Martin Dino said 25 murders reported during the election period were believed to be due to political rivalry.

Overall, however, the Commission on Elections considered the situation nationwide “peaceful” on the eve of the polls, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in a press conference yesterday.

 

Dino urged the public not to vote for those buying votes, saying dirty money was used. Violations can be reported to his personal hotline 0917-533-5765.

He said the amount per vote had gone up from P500 in previous village polls to P3,000.

Jimenez said they received 20 confirmed incidents of election-related violence, but added, “the overall peace and order situation is still good and I hope this will continue.”

Aside from the reports, the Comelec Command Center received requests to place several areas under its control.

There were also questions on whether ballots would be invalidated if a person would not vote for all seven barangay councilors or kagawad.

“This is not true. This is a misinformation to create fear and force voters to vote for candidates they do not like,” Jimenez stressed.

He reminded voters to write the names of their candidates on the ballot because this year’s election is manual.

 

 

Also reported were the deliveries of election paraphernalia ahead of election day – a move that Jimenez said was allowed in several places.

He urged the public to continue reporting on vote buying and other irregularities so Comelec can have these validated and mete out sanctions.

As of yesterday afternoon, at least 99.9 percent of ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia have been delivered, he said. “Even in areas where there are shortage of SK candidates, there will be election because there are candidates for barangay polls.”

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III asked Comelec and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to strictly enforce the law and arrest those involved in vote buying.

“The law is clear: this practice is illegal and candidates involved can lose their status as candidates, or if elected, lose their positions. Both Comelec and PNP must not shirk from enforcing the law even on the most powerful individuals,” he said.

Specially trained and equipped military personnel have been deployed in various areas of concern to ensure a peaceful and orderly barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections today.

Col. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman, said “no serious threats” that may derail today’s voting nationwide have so far been monitored.

“Nonetheless, contingency measures were laid out including the deployment of sufficient number of specially trained and equipped AFP personnel in Comelec-identified red areas,” he said, referring to hot spots marked by the Commission on Elections.

Maj. Ezra Balagtey, Eastern Mindanao Command spokesman, said at least 8,500 soldiers were deployed to support the security plan of the Comelec, AFP and PNP through a Joint Security Coordinating Committee.

Additional troops were organized and placed on standby to form part of the regional, provincial and municipal Rapid Deployable Force and Quick Reaction Teams.

Proclamation of winners

Before the end of the day, the Comelec said most of the winners will be known and likely proclaimed as it expects millions of registered voters to troop to different polling precincts to cast their votes.

“After two postponements, the nation will finally be given the chance to select its barangay leaders through democratic elections. This is a cause for celebration as it reaffirms our country’s commitment to elections as a fundamental building block of democracy,” said Jimenez.

A total of 57,376,232 registered voters for the barangay polls and another 20,626,329 youth voters for the SK elections are eligible to cast their votes from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Comelec data also showed 1,178,300 individuals filed their Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) for today’s polls. Of that number, at least 89,889 are seeking to be elected as barangay chairman and 654,608 as kagawad.

For the SK election, at least 85,916 are vying to become chairman while 347,887 want to be elected as kagawad.

Jimenez said Comelec expects a majority of the winners to be proclaimed by midnight, except in a few large barangays where counting and canvassing may take until tomorrow morning.

“We expect counting to be completed for the majority of barangays within the day because these are just small numbers (of votes),” he explained. Counting and canvassing of election results will begin as soon as polling precincts close at 3 p.m.

In case of a tie, Jimenez said a coin toss or any game of luck could be used to break it.

The Comelec has readied 78,002,561 ballots for the election of one barangay chairperson, seven barangay kagawad, one SK chairperson and seven SK kagawad in the 42,044 barangays nationwide.

It expects a voter turnout of about 75 percent of the estimated 15 million youth voters aged 18-30, who will be eligible to vote both for the barangay and youth elections after the SK Reform Law made SK voters aged 15-30 years old.

Jimenez advised voters not to come at 3 p.m. when the Board of Election Tellers (BETs) will already be listing down “voters in the vicinity” at 2:45 p.m. and only those in the list will be allowed to vote.

More than 500,000 teachers will be deployed to serve as BETs in polling precincts.

The Comelec reminded candidates and their voters that campaigning is already prohibited as well as the distribution of sample ballots.

“We discourage the use of sample ballots produced by campaign teams… they will give you sample ballots but the faces or names there are those that had them made. That is, therefore, a campaign material,” Jimenez said, noting that those materials are naturally “slanted” in favor of the ones that produced them.

Election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) urged Filipinos to participate in the poll as its chairman, Rene Sarmiento, expects a close fight between candidates. – With Paolo Romero, Michael Punongbayan, Edu Punay, Edith Regalado, Ghio Ong, Ben Serrano, Victor Martin

 

SOURCE: https://www.philstar.com

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