THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) and government security forces are ready for the special elections in the 3rd congressional district of Negros Oriental on December 9, a poll official said Thursday.

Lawyer Eliseo Labaria, acting provincial election supervisor of Negros Oriental, told the Philippine News Agency that his office has received a copy of Resolution No. 10945, setting the calendar of activities for a special election in the 3rd district of Negros Oriental.

“We are prepared because as of today, we will be utilizing the same security forces, the same rooms in the 3rd district, and maybe the same Board of Election Tellers who will be utilized during the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) polls," Labaria said.

Comelec has set the special election to replace former Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr. who was expelled from the rolls of the House of Representatives over various reasons, including continued absence and indecent behavior.

Last week, Teves was formally charged with the murder of Gov. Roel Degamo. He had been tagged as the alleged mastermind in the March 4 killing of Degamo that also led to the deaths of nine others.

Labaria said while both elections are only a little over a month in between, the provincial Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Center (JPSCC) has initially discussed certain procedural matters and other concerns.

He added that they are also waiting for further instructions on the delivery of paraphernalia, supplies, and ballots for the special elections, he said.

The filing of the certificate of candidacy for those running for congressman of the 3rd district will be on Nov. 6 to 8 and the election period will start on Nov. 9 onwards, he added.

Labaria said the activities of the BSK elections will now extend towards the special polls, such as the Comelec gun ban.

However, he said, the teachers serving in the Dec. 9 elections may have to undergo additional training such as on the canvassing of votes at the municipal and provincial level.

Meanwhile, Labaria said the JPSCC will be meeting soon to review the current security contingency plan for the BSKE as there may be changes or improvements specifically for the 3rd district of Negros Oriental.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Coast Guard are part of the JPSCC and are deputized by the Comelec during the elections.

Maj. Gen. Marion Sison, commander of the Philippine Army's 3rd Infantry Division, whose area of coverage includes Panay Island and Central Visayas provinces, said they are always prepared for any scenario.

While there are enough government troops in Negros Oriental, Sison said they are ready to send more when necessary “to ensure the safety of the people, to protect the sanctity of the ballot, and guarantee a peaceful, orderly and credible elections”. (PNA)