UNLIKE the May 10 polls, the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October will be peaceful and smooth even if the precincts are clustered, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

Cebu City north district election officer Atty. Marchel Sarno, however, said the voting process might still be a little delayed,

considering the number of voters in each cluster.

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Barangay officials earlier expressed their opposition to the clustering of precincts, saying it was among the reasons voters had to endure long lines during the May 10 polls.

Sarno admitted the barangay officials have a point in opposing Comelec’s decision to cluster the precincts, but assured them the next elections will be smoother.

“We have already learned from what we have experienced during the national elections,” Sarno said in an interview with Sun.Star Cebu.

Under Comelec’s guidelines for the barangay elections, a clustered precinct will be composed of three established precincts and shall have no more than 400 combined voters.

Precincts within the same barangay and the same voting center will be grouped together.

Sarno said this is unlike the national elections where each clustered precinct had two to five established precincts with up to 1,000 voters per cluster.

Sarno also said that unlike the national elections where there were many senators and almost 200 party-list groups to choose from, the barangay elections will require much fewer names, only that of the barangay captain and councilors.

Amid calls to postpone, Cebu City’s Comelec is ready to register voters for the SK and barangay elections, Sarno said.

Sen. Juan Miguel Zubiri has proposed to postpone the barangay election to 2012. He filed Senate Bill 60 last week, seeking the deferment of the synchronized elections originally scheduled for Oct. 25, 2010.

There is also a bill in the House of Representatives seeking to move the two elections from October this year to October next year.

In the Association of Barangay Captains (ABC) general assembly last June 29, close to half of Cebu City’s 80 barangay captains favored the deferment of the barangay and SK polls.

They wanted the elections postponed to 2011 or even 2012 so they can complete unfinished projects and help the government save money.

However, no formal or official stand was adopted.

Guadalupe Barangay Captain and ABC Oresident Eugenio Faelnar earlier said he is not in favor of resetting the polls, though he can no longer seek reelection.

“Tagaan pud nato ug higayon ang uban nga makaserbisyo, pero kadtong makapa-reelect pa, wala pud silay angayang kabalak-an kung nitrabaho sila sa ilang katungdanan, mas maayo gyud ug madayon ang eleksyon aron naa silay bag-ong mandato (Let’s give the others a chance to serve. As for those who can still seek reelection, they have nothing to worry about if they have been working. In fact, an election could give them a fresh mandate),” Faelnar said.

A registrant for the SK election must be a Filipino citizen, a resident of the barangay for six months, and 15 to 17 years old.

The same voter qualifications apply for the barangay election, except that voters should be at least 18 years old on the day of the election.

Sarno said registrants for both elections only need to present valid identification cards or birth certificates during the registration. (PDF/ETB)