Comelec extends COC filing hours in quake-hit areas-A A +A
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
WITH the filing of Certificates of Candidacy (COCs) already in its last two days, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has allowed the extension of office hours in areas that were largely affected by Tuesday's killer earthquake in the Visayas.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said they have approved the request of local election officers in Cebu, Bohol and other areas to extend the COC filing time beyond 5 p.m. for Wednesday (October 16) and Thursday (October 17).
"They were asking permission for extension period of filing of COC. Not extension of date, but just for the time only. So instead of 5 p.m., they can close by 7 p.m. or 8 p.m., if necessary. It is okay for as long as we don't go beyond October 17," said Brillantes.
Comelec's provincial and city offices in Bohol were not spared from the effects of the powerful tremor as some of them were badly-damaged while others were inaccessible due to non-passable roads.
Brillantes said Central Visayas election Eliseo Labaria said their regional office as well as the agency's warehouse in Bohol was severely damaged. The Office of the City Election Officer of Tagbilaran was also destroyed.
Fortunately, Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca said the earthquake happened early in the morning as there were no candidates filing their COCs at that time.
Padaca meanwhile said several Comelec offices in Bohol are not operating as of the moment due to the damages they sustained following the earthquake. These are located in the towns of Baclayon, Clarin, Valencia, Pila, Kalape, Cortez, Antequer, Trinidad, Inabanga, Maribohoc, Panilihan, Loboc and Lawai.
During the first three days of COC filing, Padaca said that there were already 1,072 that filed their COCs for barangay captain in Cebu as well as 48,809 for barangay kagawads.
In Bohol, Padaca said there are already 656 that filed COCs aspiring to be barangay chairmen along with 4,676 looking to be barangay councilmen. The province of Bohol has 47 towns and has a total of 1,109 barangays.
On Tuesday, a magnitude-7.2 earthquake hit several parts of the Visayas region with the provinces of Cebu and Bohol appearing to be the worst hit.
As to the possibility of postponing the conduct of elections in quake-hit areas, the Comelec said they are still gathering more accurate information that will be used as basis in deciding.
He also said they are looking more than Bohol and Cebu as possible areas where elections could be postponed.
The poll chief noted how they have received initial reports of heavy damages caused by the earthquake in Tacloban, Leyte; Bacolod, Negros Occidental; Maasin, Southern Leyte; as well as some Northern Mindanao areas.
"As much as possible, we will only limit the areas of postponement. In the event that we postpone the elections, it will probably be only in specific areas. It's very important for us to monitor where are areas that are really badly hit," said Brillantes.
Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code provides that the postponement of polls can be made if there is "violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure and other analogous causes."
Brillantes also said the commission is looking to decide as soon as possible considering that Election Day is only less than two weeks away.
"We have two days to decide on the matter. We are not sure yet but we will discuss this in the en banc so we can have a more comprehensive report on the real situation on the areas affected by the earthquake. We will have to decide on the basis of that," he said.
Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto earlier urged the Provincial Board to pass a resolution urging Comelec to postpone the October 28 barangay polls in the province, which is now under a state of calamity after the deadly quake.
500,000 file COCs
Meanwhile, in just the first three days of the six-day period for filing COCs, more than half a million individuals have already officially declared their intentions to run in the October 28 barangay elections.
According to Comelec, 57,674 aspirants has filed their COCs for barangay chairman while 467,196 are aspiring to become barangay councilmen in just the first three days beginning October 11 until 14, except October 13.
"We can just imagine how many more will file their COCs as we go into the last two days," said Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca in a press briefing.
In the National Capital Region, there are already 3,619 COCs filed for barangay chairman while aspiring barangay kagawads now number at 21,619.
On the other hand, Central Visayas already has 2,511 COCs for barangay chairmen and 60,360 for Sangguniang Barangay members.
In Davao Region, 1,606 COCs were filed by aspiring barangay captains, and 13,386 for barangay kagawads.
The last day of filing of COCs is set for Thursday as the campaign period will already be underway Friday, October 18.
Comelec Chairman Brillantes said that there will be no more extension on the filing of COCs.
"If we allow filing on October 18, it means we also have to defer the campaign period. So we will not extend the deadline date," said Brillantes. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/HDT/Sunnex)