DESPITE an alleged report of vote buying in Abra, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) noted a peaceful conduct of the 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in the region with 90 percent voter turnout.
Comelec-Cordillera regional director Julius Torres said this year’s election saw one of the highest turnout of voters.
"A vote buying incident occurred at one of the barangays in Dolores, Abra wherein the alleged candidate was apprehended and will be facing appropriate charges for violating the Omnibus Election Code," Torres said.
The report said a candidate stapled P50 in his election paraphernalia before distributing it to its constituents.
"Aside from the province of Abra, the remaining five provinces and two cities in the region remain to be generally peaceful so far with no reports of election related incidents," Torres explained.
In Kalinga province, the Comelec continous to monitor Barangay Mabungtut in Lubuagan wherein six police personnel were assigned as members of the electoral board due to an existing tribal conflict.
"In 2013, these same six PNP personnel who presided the elections then will again preside the electoral process because of their familiarity of the area, this is the only area where we are closely monitoring the electoral process to ensure the exercise will push through. Aside from this, Kalinga remains to be peaceful," Torres added.
Police Regional Office Cordillera Director Chief Superintendent Edward Carranza together with Benguet Provincial Police director Senior Superintendent Lyndon Mencio and Baguio City Police director Senior Superintendent Ramil Saculles who conducted rounds in Benguet and Baguio City visited the Regional Commission on Election Office and reported no election related incidents since the start of the political exercise in the Baguio, Benguet and the region.
"Except for the remote incident of vote buying in Abra, the region still remains to be peaceful but what we are praying for at the end of the day is for no incidents to happen, If ever there would be any election related incidents that would occur, the PNP and AFP will be on top of the situation. Anyone who will interfere in the conduct of the election will be arrested and will face appropriate charges," Carranza stated.
Mencio also assured a peaceful election in the Benguet with additional PNP personnel and reserve forces deployed in far flung areas.
"We will continue to provide security to all our Board of Election Inspectors even after the election to assure all ballots cast will be properly submitted to the election supervisors for entry to the provincial treasurer for safe keeping," Mencio added.
Saculles have noted the peaceful process of the elections in the 128 Barangays with minor problems like missing names in the voters list which have been common in previous elections in the city.
In Benguet, La Trinidad election officer Attorney Romeo Aguilar Jr., usual problems encountered during the election includes no biometrics, lack of validation and failure to vote in the 2013 and 2016 elections.
Aguilar added some 18 to 30 years old voters have checked their names within the 15 to 17 voters list.
Benguet has 734 clustered precincts with 212,164 voters.
Aguilar added some 50 voters trooped to the Comelec for validation while several voters who have enlisted two names will undergo automated fingerprint identification system. (With a report from Lauren Alimondo)