Bohol officials told: Hands off-A A +A
Saturday, October 26, 2013
CEBU -- Barangay officials in Bohol who are running for office next month can no longer give away relief goods starting today, October 26, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warned.
The election period in Bohol, where the exercise was postponed to November 25, starts today.
“All releases in relation to the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Province of Bohol, normally or usually coursed through the Department of Social Welfare and Development and any other office/department of the government performing similar functions shall be turned over to, and administered and disbursed by, the Philippine National Red Cross,” the Comelec said in Resolution 9804, which it issued last Thursday.
Comelec-Central Visayas Regional Director Temie Lambino reminded candidates for the October 28 election in the rest of the country to refrain from giving any donations, starting today.
In Cebu, military and election officials ironed out on Friday their security plans and assured voters they can expect peaceful and credible elections.
The Police Regional Office (PRO), Armed Forces of the Philippines and Comelec will be keeping a close eye on 45 barangays in Central Visayas that were classified as election watch-list areas (EWAS).
Gov. Hilario Davide III ordered Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) Director Noel Gillamac to make sure that there will be a peaceful barangay election on Monday.
In Bohol’s case, Comelec said that the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and its local counterparts will be held fully accountable for the distribution of relief goods.
“No relief or other goods for distribution shall be released and coursed to any incumbent barangay official who has filed or intends to file his certificate of candidacy or to any incumbent barangay official whose spouse or member of his family within the second civil degree of affinity or consanguinity has filed or intends to file his certificate of candidacy (COC),” Comelec said in its resolution.
Based on the resolution, the persons who filed their COCs last October 11 to 17 in Bohol are now considered candidates. Those who plan to file on October 28 and 29 are also covered by the prohibitions.
The barangay election period normally starts 30 days before the day of the election and 15 days after.
The prohibitions cover appointments, promotions, creation of new positions or giving salary increases in government agencies; illegal release of prisoners; raising of funds through lotteries and cockfights; carrying of firearms; suspension of any elective officials; and use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates.
Lambino explained that the Commission on Audit will also review the Red Cross’ distribution of relief assistance, but that the priority is to make sure relief operations are not hampered by the barangay elections.
The campaign period in Bohol will be from November 15 to 23.
The last day to file the Statements of Election Contributions and Expenditures will be on December 26.
The 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Central Visayas last October 15 has killed at least 211, with 197 of them from Bohol. It also affected more than 3.1 million persons in the region and displaced 340,457 persons in Bohol.
Although Cebu was hit as well, Comelec saw no reason to cancel the barangay elections here.
Governor Davide met on Friday with officials of the CPPO, provincial election supervisor and other officials concerned on the preparations for the barangay election and the All Souls and All Saints Days, also next week.
“Ang ato lang, ampo lang gyud ta nga wala’y violence mahitabo sa (We’re praying that no violence will happen on the day of the) barangay election,” he said.
The governor will visit the Cebu South Bus Terminal today to check conditions for passengers who will head for their hometowns.
Davide is scheduled to leave early on Monday to cast his vote in Barangay Colawin, Argao.
Cebu Provincial Treasurer Emmanuel Guial said all the ballots, which were housed in the Capitol’s warehouse, were distributed to the municipal treasurers in the province.
The ballots arrived last Monday.
Two barangays in Cebu Province were added to the EWAS list after a suspected leader of a private armed group filed a certificate of candidacy. The killing of a village official last week also led to the decision.
Superintendent Pablo Labra II, acting chief of PRO’s Intelligence Division, has recommended Barangay Banban in Bogo City for inclusion, after Joel Sumabong officially declared his candidacy for barangay captain.
The candidate, Labra said, was caught last November on the strength of an arrest warrant for attempted murder.
“We don’t have reports of armed men in the area, but we’re monitoring it,” Labra told reporters.
In Barangay Manatad, Sibonga, the police official said they placed the village under the EWAS after the death of Gomersindo Sabanal.
Sabanal, a barangay councilor, was only a few days away from filing his certificate of candidacy when he was gunned down outside his house last October 13.
In Cebu Province, Senior Supt. Noel Gillamac said they lacked at least 1,000 personnel to watch over the 1,049 polling centers.
But they will be augmented by other police units and the military in order to secure the 1,665,017 registered voters in the province.
Senior Superintendent Noli Romana, who heads the Cebu City police, believed this year’s election will be more intense due to the rift among politicians supporting the barangay candidates.
Though there are no EWAS in Cebu City, he said they will be monitoring “drug-affected” barangays such as Pasil, Ermita, Duljo-Fatima and Lorega.
They will also watch over mountain barangays Agsungot, Guba, Tudtod and Babag.
There are 576,481 registered voters and 70 polling centers in Cebu City.
The police officials in Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City also said they are prepared with their respective security plans.
Twenty-eight out 45 barangays listed as EWAS are in Negros Oriental, where rebels have been reported.
In Bohol Province, Barangay Yanawa in Bilar town; Barangay Bantuan, Bonot-Bonot, Cawag, in Buenavista town; and Barangay Cuaming belonged to the same watch list.
Barangay Canlambo in Larena, Siquijor Province and Barangay Balolong in Enrique Villanueva town are also considered areas of immediate concern.
In Cebu, the other areas listed under EWAS are Barangay Sumon in Tuburan; Kantubaon in Tabuelan; Pitalo, Panadtaran, Bugho, Tongo in San Fernando; Candabong in Dumanjug; and Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City. (Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 26, 2013.