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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

245 candidates facing DQ cases

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has suspended the proclamation of at least 245 candidates in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) due to pending disqualification cases.

“We have suspended the proclamation of 245 candidates,” Comelec Chairman George Garcia said. “In fact, we want to file [disqualification cases against] an additional 60 [candidates] before they get proclaimed. This is so that the Comelec [can] still assume jurisdiction of the disqualification case,” he said.

Except for a few incidents, including the tearing of ballots in Palawan, a physical confrontation in Lanao del Norte, teachers suddenly backing out of their voluntary poll duty in the Bangsamoro Region, and at least two shooting incidents in Lanao del Sur, the elections went as expected.

Garcia said the voter turnout for detainees in the Bureau of Corrections was a high 92 percent, while that in the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology was 77 percent.

He said they expected the counting of votes to finish at about 8 to 8:30 p.m. and the proclamation of winners by 10 or 10:30 p.m.

Also on Election Day:

* Polling at Gregorio Perfecto High School in Tondo, Manila was expected to go beyond the voting deadline of 3 p.m. due to the large number of voters there. School Principal June Hayden Sinson told ABS-CBN News that more than 44,000 voters were expected to cast their votes at the school.

Polling precincts at the school used to service just 10,000 voters but due to the ongoing renovation of the R. Almario Elementary School, G. Perfecto had to accommodate half of the other school’s voters, Sinson said. Queues even spilled out onto the streets, he said, adding that some voters attempted to vote twice.

* The watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said it expected a lower turnout of voters as the polling day coincides with the long weekend and holidays this week. PPCRV executive director Jude Liao told the Philippine News Agency at the watchdog’s command center at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila on Monday that voter turnout for BSKE is usually lower compared to national elections. PPCRV trustee Agnes Gervacio added that many Filipinos have took advantage of the long weekend and public holidays on Nov. 1 and 2.

* Elections watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) said there were “no issues” so far in the pilot testing of automated voting at the Dasmariñas Elementary School in Cavite. The Comelec had identified three pilot areas for the automated election in preparation for the upcoming 2025 BSKE — two in Dasmariñas City, Cavite and one in Quezon City. The 2025 barangay elections will be automated nationwide should the pilot testing prove successful in Barangay Poblacion Zone 2 and Paliparan 3 in Dasmariñas City, and Barangay Pasong Tamo in Quezon City, the Comelec said.

* Across the country, NAMFREL observers reported that “there has been a high turnout of voters, especially among senior citizens who turned up early outside voting centers prior to the start of voting” in most voting centers. “In places with low turnout of voters this morning, NAMFREL observers said the numbers may increase as the day progresses,” it added.

* In Al-Barka, Basilan, Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel had been requested by members of the election boards to be present at the entrance to polling places to provide security to the EBs.

* At the Malaig Elementary School in Balindong, Lanao del Sur, soldiers equipped with tasers were stationed at polling places to maintain peace and order.

* In Cotabato City, NAMFREL reported that about 15 percent of EBs at the Vilo Central Elementary School resigned the day before election day due to concerns regarding their security, especially during the counting. The EBs were replaced by personnel from the PNP.

* Also in Cotabato City, at the Kimpo Elementary School, NAMFREL observers were barred by local police from entering the voting center to observe the elections. The observers were told that no media or external observers were to be permitted inside. NAMFREL said it is verifying other incidents reported in the media that appear to be election-related.

* The Manila Electric Co. said the voting period for the BSKE ended at 3 p.m. without any major power interruption. It said minor incidents that were reported were isolated and immediately resolved with the help of Meralco crews strategically positioned across its service area. With Alena Mae Flores

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