PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has directed the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police to assist the Commission on Elections to ensure the peaceful and credible barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections next month.
The President issued Memorandum Order No. 21 granting the Comelec request for the deputation of law enforcement agencies and other government instrumentalities, including the AFP, for the synchronized barangay and SK elections on May 14.
The barangay and SK elections will be held on the second Monday of May 2018, after being postponed in October 2017.
The President earlier said he would not meddle in the local elections and will leave the decision to voters but warned against the victory of barangay officials linked in the illegal drug trade.
“This a democratic country [that] let[s] the people choose their barangay leaders. But be sure those elected are not involved in any illegal activities,” the President said.
“I’ll just give you the caveat: Many of the winners are supported by drug money. Now, that’s up to you,” Duterte said.
The Comelec, meanwhile, is investigating complaints that aspiring candidates for the upcoming village and youth council polls are being asked to pay for the filing of certificates of candidacy.
Comelec spokesperson James Arthur Jimenez said the commission has been monitoring complaints by citizens about incidences of candidates being charged for filing certificates of candidacy.
“Other reports indicate that the charges are allegedly for notarial services,” he said.
The Comelec reminded the public that the filing of COCs for the May 14 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls is free and candidates should “not be charged any amount.”
“The notarial service being rendered by Comelec field officials is likewise free of charge,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez urged the people to report incidents of extortion or any illegal activity to the Comelec through the following numbers: (02) 5270821 and (02) 5259296.
“Citizens may also file their incident reports through the Comelec’s social media accounts—@COMELEC on Twitter, and comelec.ph on Facebook,” he added.
The election period opened Saturday with the filing of COCs.
As of Sunday, a total of 80,748 individuals had filed their COCs, 54,592 of them are males and 26,156 females.
Of the total number, more than 8,000 filed as candidates for Barangay chairman while 52,790 filed as candidates for councilman as of Sunday.
For SK polls, 4,443 have filed COCs for chairman while 15, 313 filed for SK councilman.