Choose wisely, Comelec says-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
BARELY two weeks since a powerful earthquake, Cebu’s towns and cities are ready for the barangay elections today, Monday.
In Mandaue City, 11 of the 516 clustered precincts will be transferred to a different location because some classrooms were damaged.
About 5,000 police and soldiers will be deployed today in Central Visayas, except in Bohol Province, to secure the barangay elections. Bohol’s exercise was postponed to November 25.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Grace Padaca, who inspected preparations in Cebu during the weekend, appealed to voters to choose good leaders.
“Ang election ngayon ay mahalaga kasi dito nag-uumpisa ang mukha ng pamahalaan sa ating mga mamamayan (Today’s elections are important because the barangay leaders are our people’s most direct experience with the government),” she said.
Commissioner Padaca and Regional Director Temie Lambino visited some areas in Cebu on Saturday and Sunday to check on the preparations.
These included SM City Cebu (where special polling places were set up for seniors and persons with disabilities); Barangay Mabolo and Abellana National School in Cebu City; Talisay City, Naga City and Liloan town.
The military’s Central Command (Centcom) will augment the police by deploying less than 1,000 personnel, who were sent off in a ceremony on Sunday.
“So far, there are no major problems. We hope this will continue,” Police Regional Office (PRO)-Central Visayas Director Danilo Constantino told Sun.Star Cebu.
Centcom Commander Roy Deveraturda, in his speech, reminded soldiers to “perform our duties with a steady dedication.”
In Naga City, however, Mayor Valdemar Chiong urged the local police to remain neutral, following reports that some candidates were using policemen as armed goons.
In Mandaue, a barangay captain who is running for reelection voiced alarm on Sunday, after receiving reports that her supporters in a sitio were harassed by their landlords, who support her opponent.
The effect of the October 15 earthquake on the election preparations is most obvious in Mandaue City, in the public school classrooms damaged by the tremors.
Six precincts in Barangay Cambaro will be transferred to the City Central School in adjacent Barangay Centro.
In Barangay Pagsabungan, five makeshift precincts will be set up inside the elementary school.
Mandaue has 189,093 registered voters, who will cast their votes in 516 clustered precincts in 27 barangays.
Nearly half a million people are expected to cast their votes in 1,294 clustered precincts in the sixth district and the lone district of Lapu-Lapu City.
The sixth district covers the Mandaue City and the towns of Consolacion and Cordova.
Meanwhile, two women were apprehended for allegedly being involved in vote-buying in Barangay San Isidro, Talisay City last Saturday at 5 p.m.
Police identified them as Mary Ann Geraga, 19, and Edita Alo, 49. They were turned over by complainants to the police.
Recovered from Geraga was a bag with 44 sample ballots, P150, five sheets of paper, pen and marker. At least 22 sample ballots were taken from Alo.
SPO1 Edgar Causon and PO2 Dennis P. Onasin documented the evidence, but the police released the women on instructions of lawyer Gallardo Escobar Jr., the city’s Comelec chairman.
The complainants were advised to file their case with the Comelec in Talisay City or the law department of Comelec Manila.
In Mandaue, Banilad barangay captain Dianne Bercede-Abanes called a press conference and claimed that her supporters were threatened with eviction and harassed by men guarding the entrances of Sitio Lower Sampaguita.
But Hope Baga, whose husband Alfonso “Boy” Baga is running for councilor under the opposing camp, denied the allegations.
She, however, admitted they assigned civilian guards at the two entrances of their property to prevent candidates from the other camp from entering.
“We do not intend to block our property but we just put security, who are just residents of our private property, at the entrance. We don’t want vote-buying to happen here. Di mi gusto nga musud sila diri kay ila ning gihimo ang lugar namo for their vote-buying (We don’t want the other camp to come here to buy the residents’ votes),” she said.
Baga said they have posted civilian guards since Friday. She denied that her family threatened their tenants with eviction.
“This is a democratic county. Igo lang mi nihangyo nga butohan nila akong bana ug iyang line-up (We only asked them to vote for my husband and his line-up),” she said.
“We never had goons,” she added.
For her part, Abanes said she will seek help from the police as she received reports that there are armed men roaming around the barangay.
Abanes is running against incumbent councilor Greg Yap.
But Abanes said putting civilian guards at the entrances of the sitio has caused fear among residents, especially her supporters.
“Ang uban diha naghilum-hilom na lang tungod sa kahadlok (Some of my supporters there have kept silent because of their fear),” she said.
Abanes said she will request for more police personnel in the barangay in today’s elections.
For his part, Naga City Mayor Valdemar Chiong urged the local police to remain neutral. He gave the reminder in a meeting of the joint election task force.
Chiong said the reports he received were similar to the ones in last May’s national and local elections, when a team of policemen had reportedly operated against him just a day before the polls.
“Kung makadungog ko nga naay pulis nga mobuhat ana, maningil gyud ko (If I hear about partisanship among the police, I will go after them),” he warned.
Lawyer Charice Faith Sojor, Naga City election officer, assured that all incoming security personnel will not be sent to the field unless they coordinate with her or the local police chief.
Sojor revealed that she received only one request from a police official to conduct mobile patrols within Naga City.
Superintendent Eduardo Saavedra, Naga City police chief, also assured that all police personnel assigned to secure the barangay elections in the city today will be required to wear their uniform.
In San Fernando, Chief Inspector Sara Recla told Sun.Star Cebu augmentation forces from the police and military had been sent to prevent violence in the town’s barangay elections.
Recla, who is the town’s police chief, said the 37 personnel in the joint augmentation force will be sent to hotly-contested barangays like Balungag, Panadtaran, Pitalo, Tunggo and Bugho.
A mobile patrol force will be assigned to monitor the other villages. (Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 28, 2013.