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Precincts open for 2018 barangay and SK elections

Published May 14, 2018 7:07am Updated May 14, 2018 7:11am By RIE TAKUMI, GMA News Precincts nationwide opened at 7 a.m. on Monday to begin the twice-delayed 2018 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections. Voters were at polling centers early, eager to cast their votes.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said polling centers in National Capital Region will open on time at 7 a.m. except for one polling place.

However, he said just because a place has failed to open on time "hindi po siya automatic na failure."

The Comelec command center at the Palacio de Gobernador in Manila will serve as the coordinating center for all government agencies and regional offices in addition to fielding reports, questions, and complaints through their public 8888 hotline.

Citizens' groups, represented in the center, are also running hotlines for election-related queries, reports, and legal assistance.

The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines remain on high alert, especially in hotspots or "red areas," despite reporting no serious threats to the elections.

However, several deaths have already been reported on the eve of the first barangay and SK elections in five years, including that of a journalist in Zamboanga del Sur, and a barangay reelectionist in Davao City.

Comelec and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) meanwhile are dealing with reports of bullying, intimidation, and alleged vote-buying.

The Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) will be on the lookout for flying voters, colorum vehicles, and out-of-line vehicles.

Delayed twice, — once in October 2016 and then in 2017 — this is the first barangay and SK elections to implement the Election Service Reform Act or Republic Act 10756, which allowed teachers to refuse election duties.

Teachers who choose to serve as poll watchers who earn less than P250,000 annually are exempt from the 5-percent withholding tax on their honoraria provided they secure certification from the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR).

Deployed police will serve as board of election tellers (BET) and inspectors (BEI) in areas where there are no teacher volunteers or areas deemed too unsafe, as may be the case in areas like Basilan.

Over one million excess, spoiled, and defective ballots were destroyed on Friday to minimize the chances of cheating on Monday.

 

Source: gmanews 

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