Metro Manila elections went well

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Monday, October 25, 2010

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the National Capital Region said it was able to conduct a successful Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls as it expects winning candidates to be proclaimed Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Dioneda, Comelec-NCR regional director, told Sun.Star that all the 1,705 barangays in the metropolis have started counting the votes and others have advanced to the canvassing stage.

“Majority of the precincts started and closed the voting on time, that’s why others are in the canvassing stage already. With the way things are going, I think proclamation will happen only for the big barangays on Tuesday. We don’t see any problems so far in the process,” he said.


In the NCR, Comelec records showed that 4,808 candidates are gunning for the post of barangay chairman while 40,132 are slugging for a council seat.

The youth elections however attracted lesser candidates with only 3,890 teenagers aged 15 to 17 vying for SK chairmanships, while 19,619 wanted a seat in the council.

There are 6.2 million registered voters in the region or roughly 12 percent of the 52.7 million Filipinos who were eligible to participate in the village elections.

Comelec listed 3,136 polling precincts in the metropolis.

“I can’t give a rough estimate yet with regards to the voter turnout but traditionally it’s lower than the preceding national elections. We’ll see though,” said Dioneda.

But the Comelec expected a low turnout in this year’s elections compared to the previous polls.

In a briefing, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said some voters still have “hangover” on the last presidential elections while others are still reeling from the effects of typhoon Juan.

The poll official disclosed that they are hoping for a 60 percent turnout although the result may be lower than that.

In Quezon City

Board of Election Tellers (BET) in two big areas in Quezon City revealed there is low voter's turnout in this year's electoral exercise.

Only half of the voters at Commonwealth Elementary School and Commonwealth High School have cast their votes as the poll precincts closed at 3 p.m., according to BETs Elizabeth Lopez and Adoracion Colinares.

Colinares said the turnout is lower than the preceding village elections.

Jobert Flores, a volunteer of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) assigned at Commonwealth High school, said voters in most precincts are less than half of the registered voters.

"Mababa talaga pag barangay and SK elections. Pero mas bumababa pa ngayon kumpara dati," he noted.

As of 9:00 p.m. Monday, only 40 out of 158 precincts completed its counting for Barangay Commonwealth with incumbent chairman Jose Gaviola leading the race.

For the barangay councilman, topping race is Reynaldo Sevilla followed by Ronie Villamor, Roberto Marano, Albertito Soriano, Manuel Go and Crisanto de Lima Jr.

According BET Rodolfo Modelo, the canvassing votes will be done early Tuesday.

In Makati City

On the other hand, the proclamation of the winning candidates in Makati City will be held at the city’s coliseum Tuesday.

As of this posting, some BETs are still in the counting staged.

"Ang board of canvassers na ang bahala once na-submit na namin ang tally ng votes. Bukas na ang proclamation sa coliseum. Basta kami tapos na ang trabaho namin," said BET chairman Fernando Baniqued of precincts 543A and 544A in San Antonio village.

Poll watchers and volunteers from the PPCRV are closely safeguarding the votes in the area where Makati Mayor Jun-Jun Binay and his family earlier voted.

Charito Go and Allan Teves are the only candidates vying for barangay captain spot in San Antonio.

Makati Mayor Jun-Jun Binay voted around 9 a.m. while her mother, Elenita, who is also a former mayor of Makati, voted an hour later.

"Usually dito sa Makati peaceful naman tayo. Sana matuto na tayong bumoto, maiba na yung pananaw natin sa pagboto. It's about time to go out and vote," Elenita, who preferred the automated system, said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay however left for Tuguegarao Monday morning to personally handout relief goods to victims of typhoon "Juan" but he casts his votes after the trip.

In Barangay San Lorenzo, more than 10 people were discovered as flying voters, confessing that they were paid P500 each to vote for a barangay kagawad bet.

Vice President Binay said he is dismayed with the reported flying voters in Makati, where he served as mayor for 20 years.

In Manila City

Manila candidates did not mind to court the support of the detainees at Manila City Jail (MCJ) although the prisoners actively participated in Monday's electoral exercise.

Jail Senior Inspector Ricky Heart Pegalan told Sun.Star that only two candidates for barangay captain bothered to campaign at the facility.

Candidates may have seen the detainees as not worth the effort, according to Pegalan.

In effect, the detainees, most of them come from Manila's third district, had only two candidates to choose from.

"There are many other candidates but they did not coordinate with the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to set up a campaign visit,” the jail officer said.

Voter-detainees were brought to Comelec polling center at the jail's administration office in batches and were not allowed to talk to each other.

Pegalan noted that the Comelec expected a high turnout of voters from prisoners although 28 declined to participate.

"Siguro ayaw na lang nila ma-istorbo," he said.

Voting at MCJ ended before 2:30 p.m. and the detainees' ballots were quickly dispatched to polling centers.

Their ballots were sorted before the elections to prevent confusion during the voting. No election-related violence was recorded at the jail facility.

Taguig-Pateros areas

The Bagumbayan Elementary School in Taguig City, which is listed under the Comelec watchlist, spearheaded Monday's polls smoothly.

Police Superintendent Rey Viloria said law enforcers were deployed in the area as early as 11:30 p.m. Sunday and checkpoints were implemented before the election day.

Nine police personnel stayed within the perimeters of the school while another team roamed in the area to secure the voters.

Viloria said that though this school is considered a hotspot area, the opening of the polls was peaceful.

“Peaceful naman, walang problema dito and nandito na kami to guard the ballots until the time na aalisin yun ditto,” he noted.

School Officer-in-Charge Flordelyn Umagat said it was a peaceful and orderly election as they never received any untoward incident during the voting process.

The PPCRV also installed a wide screen in the court area to ensure transparent data as it started its partial unofficial count 6:00 p.m. Monday.

In an interview, Olive Angeles, chairman of the BET, said they are just waiting for all the remaining precincts to finish counting before canvassing all the votes.

BET officials said they are going to complete the counting by Tuesday morning with the winning candidates set to be proclaimed at Taguig City Hall.

In Pateros town, Mayor Joey Medina was accused of interfering in the conduct of the elections.

Supporters of Chairman Nal Reyes and his rival Abet Mabini started trooping to the town’s municipal hall that served as the polling precinct for Barangay Martirez as early as 6 a.m.

Reyes is identified as a close ally of Medina.

But the voting was delayed for several hours, prompting the residents to engage in heated arguments among local poll officials.

“The Comelec won’t talk to us and explain the delay. Instead, they had armed policemen blocked the precinct to intimidate us,” said Sharon Gentalian, a Barangay Martirez resident.

Medina was accused of facilitating the entry of “flying voters” though he vehemently denied the allegation.

Common problem

Like the previous electoral process, voters encountered several problems in Monday's local polls.

Common glitches are the difficulty in finding names in the voter's list provided by the Comelec on top of the "unclear" copies posted in the precincts.

Instead of helping voter, some watchers and volunteers instead contributed to the confusion of "lost" registrants, a city election official said.

The Manila City Comelec Office was crowded with complaints from voters whose names were on a so-called master list, but were not in the list of voters registered at their polling precincts.

Narciso Arabe, Commission on Elections (Comelec) officer for Manila's Fifth District, said voters should have checked their names against official lists posted at polling centers.

He said the problem may lie with lists that partisan poll watchers use to help voters find their polling precincts.

“Alam mo naman ngayon, madaling i-edit sa computer ang listahan para mag dagdag o mag bawas.”

He added the master lists used by deputized volunteers from the PPCRV may not come from the Comelec.

PPCRV volunteers at Araullo High School earlier said their list had been compiled by officials of Barangay 666 and 667.

But Arabe noted “that is not the official list”.

According to PPCRV volunteer Jouseff Macol, around 30 voters complained of not being in the voter’s list.

Poll watchers at the precincts directed confused voters to the PPCRV. But the PPCRV said all they could do was consult the master list.

“Misplaced” voters were instead told to bring their concerns to the Manila Comelec office in Arroceros. But employees at the Comelec office could barely handle the number of complaints.

They told irate voters to just have the school principals of their polling centers to verify their registration over the telephone.

Voters said, however, that they had been trying to but the telephone lines were always busy.

Some BET also complained of the lack of list of candidates, prompting them to write the names of the bets on the blackboard.

Other BETs took the initiative of printing the candidate’s name in the ballot secrecy folder at their own expense.

"Kasama na ata yun sa P2,000 na bayad samin," said Quezon City BET Edelyn Mesias.(Virgil Lopez/Jill Beltran/Glaiza Jarloc/Kathrina Alvarez/Jonathan De Santos/Sunnex)

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