COMELEC POSTPONING BOHOL VILLAGES POLLS / ZAMBO POLLS MOVED TO NOVEMBER ALSO


This hanging bridge over Sipatan River in Sevilla, Bohol, looks deserted after the powerful earthquake that hit Bohol on Oct. 15. Bohol officials are hopeful business will rebound as soon as tourists return. MARIANNE BERMUDEZ

MANILA, OCTOBER 29, 2013 (MANILA BULLETIN) by Leslie Ann Aquino – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is postponing the October 28 Barangay Elections in Bohol province where many areas are still reeling from the devastation and after effects of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake last October 15.

In announcing the decision to postpone the village polls in the entire province instead of just the affected towns and barangays, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said, “We considered everything. There are about a million factors that we considered.

Brillantes said the Comelec resolution postponing the polls in Bohol will be released today.

The poll chief said the poll body will come out with a resolution today (Tuesday) enumerating the reasons for the postponement.

“We are postponing the elections in the entire island of Bohol. Reasons to be specified in a formal resolution tomorrow,” said Brillantes in an interview.

He said their resolution will include when special barangay elections will be held in the province.

“We will come out with the date tomorrow as well as in Zamboanga because we have yet to set the date there,” Brillantes said.

Comelec had earlier postponed the village polls in Zamboanga due to the damage brought about by the recent fighting between the military and the Moro National Liberation Front.

With the postponement, Brillantes said candidates should stop with their campaign activities.

“What is important is for the campaigning to stop. This is so everybody can concentrate in giving relief,” he said.

Brillantes visited Bohol over the weekend to check the damage wrought by the earthquake and the schools that serve as voting centers.

WALK FOR PEACE

Meanwhile, a Catholic prelate in Abra has called on candidates in the province to keep the polls peaceful.

“They say the competition is more personal in the village polls. It’s a small community that’s why it’s more heated,” said Bangued Bishop Leopoldo Jaucian.

“I always encourage the people, especially the Abrenos to really work hand in hand for peace, to guard our ballots, and really not to use violence,” he said.

Jaucian said the diocese has lined up activities—peace walks and covenants–to promote peaceful polls.

The walk for peace will be held on October 27, the day before the elections.

“There will be a Walk for Peace with Mary for peaceful elections from our cathedral. After the Mass, we will have a procession to ask the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary for peaceful barangay elections,” said Jaucian.

CAUSE FOR CONCERN

At the same time, lawmakers called on the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the local government units (LGUs) to exhaust all means to ensure orderly, reliable and peaceful barangay polls on October 28.

Deputy Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna said the inclusion of 6,195 barangays in PNP’s election watch-list areas (EWAs) was a “grave cause for concern.”

“Barangay elections, being the most micro and most personal type of electoral contest in our society, are hotly contested and personal-based elections. Meaning, contenders are neighbors and more often than not, their over-familiarity with each other has bred contempt between and among them. As a result, this may result to verbal and physical violence,” said Tugna. (With a report from Charissa M. Luci)

FROM THE BOHOL CHRONICLE

New rules set as barangay election moved BOHOL CHRONICLE OCTOBER 28, 2013

The Commission on Elections issued a resolution postponing the barangay election in entire Bohol to November 25, considering the effects of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the entire province and the series of aftershocks that ensued.

Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria said that with the postponement of barangay election in Bohol based on Comelec Resolution 9804, the new schedule of activities wherein the election period has been reset to the period from October 26 up to December 10, which is 30 days before and 15 days after the election.

The campaign period will be from November 15 to November 23.

This serves as guide in prohibiting any form of campaign activities from the date the certificates of candidacy is filed up to November 14, 2013. Campaigning is also banned on the day before and on election day.

Comelec also added two dates which are October 28 and 29 for the filing of the Certificates of Candidacy inBoholto replace for the days where the operation of the local Comelec offices was disrupted by the earthquake.

The Comelec resolution also provides that candidates inBoholwill have until December 26 to file their sworn Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures.

The Comelec assured of enough funds for the option to mount temporary structures that will serve as voting centers, without waiting for the complete repair of the classrooms and barangay halls that are the usual voting centers.

At first, Comelec preferred to postpone the barangay election in 10 areas only, based on the consultation and assessment of local election officers. These areas are Sagbayan, Carmen, Antequera, Maribojoc, Loon, Calape, Tubigon, Clarin, Inabanga,San Isidro.

However, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. withheld the issuance of the resolution supposedly on October 18 after receiving the resolution of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, also passed that day, requesting for the postponement of the barangay election in the entire province to a later date, in consideration to the situation of Boholanos who are not ready for the election.

In fact, many aspirants failed to file their certificates of candidacy after the earthquake and the aftershocks.
Brillantes decided to check the actual situation inBoholon October 20.

The issue was tackled in a meeting at the People's Mansion on that Sunday with the Comelec regional director, DILG Sec. Mar Roxas, DSWD Sec. Dinky Soliman, Provincial Election Supervisor Eliseo Labaria, the three Bohol congressmen--Yap, Relampagos, and Aumentado, Chatto, Vice-Gov. Concepcion Lim, Lawyer Emmanuel Tumanda--president of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (BCCI), and Liga ng mga Barangay provincial federation president Madelone Rengel.

Governor Edgar Chatto, Congressman Rene Relampagos and Congressman Aumentado assigned the task on Congressman Arthur Yap to lobby before the Comelec en banc that held a session on October 21 that the postponement should cover the entire province instead of only 10 areas in worst situation.

WithYap’s insistence during Comelec’s closed-door en banc meeting, Brillantes finally gave in.

Yap said theBoholleaders thank the Comelec headed by Chairman Sixto Brillantes and all the commissioners that they were sensitive enough to consider our issue because they were able to understand not to equate the physical possibility of holding the election with the wiser move to postpone it.

Yapsaid the issue is not whether we can or we cannot. Instead, he said the issue is whether we should or should not proceed with the election as originally scheduled.

Yap asked the Comelec commissioners to consider that the scenario “with all the aftershocks happening while many people queue at the schools for the voting during the election, and those schools now are being used as evacuation centers, and then suddenly there is a tremor, there is a continuing aftershock, the people would be running that might result to stampede”.

For sure there would be many children. if there is a stampede, somebody must bear the responsibility and it should not be the Bohol officials,Yappointed out during the en banc session.

The commission was able to see it. In fairness to Comelec, the commissioners were concerned that the campaign period already started and there are incumbent barangay captains and incumbent barangay kagawads who had filed COCs and inBohol, they would be distributing aid if election here push through this month.

The other option thatYapcited during the en banc session was for the Comelec to tap all the election officials now to just help and assist the provincial government in distributing aid and making sure that it is not taking advantage for political use, since the entire Comelec is already ready to conduct the election anyway.

Yapsaid Comelec can reverse the process. If they are ready now they can use the election officers right now to make sure when they give aid, they should give aid equally to all that nobody’s taking advantage of the situation.

The gap is not going to be too long, because it’s only one month. But hopefully in that one month the aftershocks have already stopped,Yapsaid.

Comelec to hold Zamboanga special elections before November ends by Leslie Ann Aquino October 12, 2013 The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is planning to conduct the Zamboanga barangay special elections before November ends.

“Preferably we would want to have the special elections before November 30 to avoid any hold over. Note that the term of the barangay will be up to noon of Nov. 30,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim said that they want to avoid a holdover so as not to be accused of favoring the incumbent.

“We might be blamed that we are favoring the incumbent so that they’ll stay in their positions,” Lim said.

Brillantes said they cannot yet set the special elections in Zamboanga City as they are still monitoring the situation in the area.

“We cannot schedule it yet as we are still assessing the situation on a day to day basis. Maybe as we move on with the October 28 elections immediately after that or even before we might be able to set it already,” he said.

Last October 8, the poll body announced the postponement of the October 28 barangay elections in Zamboanga City due to the damage caused by the recent armed conflict there between government troops and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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