THE barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections opened peacefully in Guiuan, Eastern Samar, on Monday, May 14, amid alleged reports of rampant vote buying and vote selling.
District Election Supervising Officer Melchor Lacdao said that in his area of assignment, they have opened their 23 precincts on time. He acknowledged the presence of policemen and the media to ensure security and transparency in the elections.
“It’s good that media are around to prevent those people who have bad intentions during elections,” said Lacdao, adding that the local electric cooperative has assured them of a steady power supply during the counting of votes.
Local election officer Sebastian Caspe also noted on vote buying activities among barangay candidates, admitting that this has been turned into a custom among voters.
“We cannot avoid that vote buying. It’s very popular, very rampant,” Caspe told reporters in an interview.
He said, though, that they had conducted intensive voting education to the public prior to the start of the elections.
According to Caspe, vote buying is particularly rampant in barangays where close competition among political rivals and supporters is happening.
Senior Inspector Wilmer Dadia, the chief of police of Guiuan, said they conducted a close monitoring of the barangays where they received alleged reports of vote buying and vote selling.
In an interview, Dadia also said they had monitored the rest of 60 barangays in the town.
He said no untoward incident was reported since the start of the elections and that there is no presence of private armed groups in their area.
Proof of the town’s peace and order situation during election day is that the town's lock-up cell remains “empty,” said Dadia.
He said Guiuan has 47,000 voting population.
The police chief also assured that the security force in the town has been augmented to ensure the successful conduct of the elections.
Earlier, Regional Director Marivel C. Sacendoncillo of the Department of Interior and Local Government warned voters against barangay candidates who buy votes and use force during the elections.
Meanwhile, Guiuan Mayor Sheen Gonzales said that their town remains peaceful during the elections.
He also appealed to the candidates and their supporters to focus on what they could offer for the betterment of their respective barangays, as the elections come to close on Monday afternoon.
“We know that in an election, someone will win and someone will lose. We should move one, win or lose. We should be forward looking and focus on what we can do to help our barangays,” he said told SunStar in an interview. (SunStar Philippines)