(PHILSTAR) POSTED OCTOBER 27, 2013 - By Sheila Crisostomo - Come early and prepared.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday gave this advice to voters as the nation prepares for tomorrow’s barangay elections.

“Our system now is manual so the counting process will be much longer than the automated elections. We need to close the voting at 3 p.m. because of the counting and then we will go to the canvassing,” he said.

Brillantes advised voters to come prepared with their list of candidates as the voting starts at 7 a.m.

He also appealed to voters to be more patient in finding their names in the voter’s list.

“Don’t rely too much on that (computerized lists of voters). If you know that you are supposed to vote there but you did not see your name on it, then better go inside and verify from the official list,” he said.

Comelec also reminded the public that the liquor ban takes effect today.

Selling and drinking liquor a day before the elections is an offense punishable under the Omnibus Election Code.

“Starting 12:01 of October 27 until midnight of October 28, an election liquor ban will be implemented nationwide, except in the province of Bohol and in Zamboanga City,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said.

Comelec has decided to postpone the barangay elections in Bohol and Zamboanga City.

The 45-day election period in Zamboanga City and Bohol, however, started yesterday for the holding of the special barangay elections on Nov. 25.

Comelec was forced to postpone the village elections in Zamboanga City in the aftermath of the destruction caused by the three-week gun battle between government forces and the Misuari faction of the Moro National Liberation Front.

Most villages in Bohol, on the other hand, were in ruin following the Oct. 15 earthquake that left some 200 people dead and thousands homeless.

Zamboanga and Bohol, however, are still not covered by the nationwide liquor ban, Comelec said.

Under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, it is prohibited for “any person who sells, furnishes, offers, buys, serves or takes intoxicating liquor on the days fixed by law for the registration of voters in the polling place, or on the day before the election or on election day.”

Comelec said foreigners and tourists are not covered by the liquor ban, provided they are in establishments catering to tourists.

Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca, for her part, gave assurance the poll body is ready for tomorrow’s barangay elections.

“We have been preparing for this since June, after the May 13 elections. We are ready, everything has been set,” she said.

Padaca has urged all candidates and their supporters to play fair.

“Vote buying is usually done not by the candidates themselves so most of the time it is hard to prove the connection. Vote selling is actually easier to prove so those who will sell their vote must think twice before doing it,” she added.

Up for grabs in the coming polls are 42,028 posts for barangay chairman and 294,196 slots for councilmen or seven for each barangay nationwide.

Comelec records show a total of 92,124 candidates are aspiring to be village chiefs while 715,012 are running for kagawad or barangay council members. There are a total of 54,031,626 voters going to the polls tomorrow.

There are 36,768 designated voting centers nationwide with 170,603 clustered precincts.

Security concerns

Candidates made their last pitch as the hours ticked off to formally end the period of campaigning yesterday.

Police, on the other hand, have been placed on full alert since Friday, ahead of tomorrow’s barangay elections.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has said the number of election-related incidents in this year’s polls is lower compared to the 2010 barangay elections.

The PNP has placed a total of 6,195 barangays or 14.74 percent of the 42,028 barangays nationwide under its election watch list.

This included 163 villages in Isabela province, considered as “areas of concern” by the regional police.

The US embassy, however, issued a security message to its citizens in the country to pay attention to reports and government announcements on possible election-related violence stemming from the barangay elections.

The embassy said Philippine authorities have taken some steps to reduce the possibility of violence erupting during the elections.

“We wish to remind US citizens to remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings, assess their personal security, and avoid areas of demonstrations and public gatherings in connection with the October 28 elections,” the embassy said.

Tomorrow’s elections should have included the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) but this was postponed by Congress amid questions on its effectiveness in being a training ground for governance for the youth.

Congress passed Republic Act 10632 that would reset the SK elections as determined by the Comelec between Oct. 28, 2014 and Feb. 23, 2015.

Brillantes said the postponement should be an opportunity to study if the SK should be abolished altogether.

Brillantes believes that the SK had only become a breeding ground for political dynasties as those seeking SK posts are usually children of politicians.

He believes the SK exposes the youth to the mismanagement of funds by regular politicians. – With Pia Lee-Brago, Mike Frialde, Charlie Lagasca, Ric Sapnu, Rhodina Villanueva


22 killed ahead of village elections Associated Press 8:03 pm | Sunday, October 27th, 2013

MANILA, Philippines — At least 22 candidates and supporters have been killed in election-related violence over the past month ahead of this week’s village polls across the Philippines, police said Sunday, underscoring the violent downside of one of Asia’s most rambunctious democracies.

Twenty-seven other people have been wounded in violence linked to election rivalries, mostly in shootouts, national police spokesman Senior Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac said. At least 588 people have been arrested for violating an elections gun ban, with police confiscating nearly 500 firearms, 4,000 rounds of ammunition, 191 knives and 68 grenades.

Fifteen people were killed in village election violence in 2010, Sindac said.

Government troops and police have gone on full alert for Monday’s daylong balloting, especially in about 6,000 of 42,028 villages nationwide considered security hotspots due to a history of electoral violence or past attacks by Muslim and communist insurgents or al-Qaeda-linked militants.

“Our elections in the past have always been marred by untoward incidents,” military spokesman Lt. Col. Ramon Zagala said, adding that government forces would guard against “spoilers to this democratic exercise.”

More than 800,000 candidates are vying for chairmanships and other posts in urban and rural villages, locally called barangays — the Philippines’ smallest political units, where violence and fraud are as much a concern as they are in elections for higher office.

In the latest violence, unidentified men opened fire on a police car carrying an elections officer and policemen Sunday, setting off a gunbattle that wounded the poll official, two policemen and a civilian in Palanas town in central Masbate province, police said.

Police arrested the son of a candidate for village chairman and 16 other supporters, some of them armed with shotguns and pistols, for allegedly threatening a rival candidate in southern South Cotabato province, police said.

In the country’s worst election violence, 58 members of a political clan and media workers were ruthlessly shot to death in a 2009 massacre allegedly plotted by a rival clan with its armed militias to maintain their political control over southern Maguindanao province. The accused clan members have denied any wrongdoing. Among the dead were at least 31 media workers. It was the single worst killing of journalists in the world.

Officials have postponed Monday’s elections in central Bohol province, which was devastated by a strong earthquake on Oct. 15 that killed more than 200 people, and in southern Zamboanga city, where Muslim rebels occupied coastal villages and took scores of residents hostage in a three-week standoff last month that killed more than 200 combatants and civilians.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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