Bacolod City Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia has expressed alarm over the sudden and extremely unusual influx of transferee-registrants from other towns and cities in Negros Occidental early last week.
Leonardia, who is the current president of the League of Cities in the Philippines, has also called on lawyer Ma. Fatima Aspan to inhibit herself from assuming as acting Bacolod poll officer to preserve the integrity of the ongoing voter registration process.
Aspan is the current provincial election supervisor for Negros Occidental, who was designated as Bacolod election officer in an acting capacity starting Sept. 14 by Comelec Regional Director Wilfredo Jay Balisado after a staff of the Bacolod Comelec tested positive for COVID-19.
Incumbent Bacolod election officer Kathrina Trinio-Cana tested negative for COVID but had to undergo quarantine together with her other personnel.
In his Sept. 17 letter to Aspan, Leonardia highlighted that her designation was temporary and good only until incumbent election officer Cana posted a negative result in her RT-PCR test.
“Despite the fact that EO (Kathrina Trinio) Cana has tested negative for Covid, you did not have the delicadeza to return to your regular post as the PES,” Leonardia added.
Leonardia also raised the timing of the influx of transferee-registrants from out-of-town areas in Bacolod City.
Observers, including members of the Philippine National Police Station 1 Precinct, witnessed the arrival of out-of-town registrants since Tuesday last week, with many of them bringing rice cookers, mats, mattresses, rice, canned goods and cans of biscuits.
On Wednesday, Station 1 operatives said the long line snaked through from the Bacolod Comelec area down to SM City at the Reclamation Area as early as 4 a.m., Leonardia said.
The same long queue was seen Thursday, the mayor said.
“While I personally commiserate with the situation, at the outset and with all due respect, I have strong reservations on this move; I, therefore, oppose your assumption as acting Election Officer for Bacolod City,” said Leonardia, himself a lawyer.
Leonardia reminded Aspan that the correct thing to do, in light of the spread of the deadly Delta variant and the sudden influx of people, was to temporarily stop the registration or “at the very least, control the number per day to what is allowed under the present health protocols.”