AT least 20 election officers were reshuffled to avoid accusations of being biased for certain candidates ahead of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the barangay elections today.
Two weeks before the Oct. 28 polls, the police have identified 44 barangays in Central Visayas that are potential election watch-list areas (Ewas).
Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino said only city and municipal election officers were reshuffled, but he expects that more will be transferred once the COCs come in.
“We did this to avoid some innuendos of some candidates that the officers might be biased. That’s a better option than removing them,” he said during the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSSC) meeting yesterday.
Comelec offices will accept COCs until Oct. 17, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except on Oct. 13, a Sunday.
Any Filipino who is a registered voter of the barangay where he or she intends to be elected and has been living in the barangay for at least a year before Election Day can file a COC.
The candidate must be able to read and write Filipino or any other local dialect, and should be at least 18 years old on Oct. 28.
The COC should be filed personally by the applicant or by a duly-authorized representative.
Lambino said that any material misrepresentation, such as false claim to be a registered voter, is a ground to cancel the COC.
After the meeting, Supt. Pablo Labra II, acting chief of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID), told reporters that 44 barangays have been identified as possible Ewas.
Of the number, 28 are in Negros Oriental, 11 in Cebu Province, three in Bohol, one barangay in Lapu-Lapu City and another in Siquijor.
The police official said they also directed lower police units to deploy covert personnel in the offices of city and municipal election officers today as opposing candidates are expected to file their COCs.
Labra said the police anticipate some disorder.
Once the candidates file their COCs, they cannot post campaign materials and will have to remove posters that they have already put up, Provincial Comelec officer Ferdinand Gujilde said.
They also cannot hold motorcades or parades because these will be considered as premature campaigning.
Gujilde said these activities promote one’s candidacy and should only be done during the campaign period.
Campaign period is on Oct. 18 to 26.
He cited Section 80 of the Omnibus Election Code, which prohibits campaigning or partisan political activity outside the campaign period.
In Mandaue City, the police will be on full alert eight days before the elections.
Supt. Crisaleo Tolentino, Mandaue City Police Office’s deputy director for operations, said no barangay in Mandaue has been declared a hot spot area so far.
At least 404 personnel will be deployed to the polling precincts on Oct. 28. The police will be on full alert from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.
The police will also request the Visayan Electric Company and the City Government to check the electrical wirings in 28 public schools where the elections will be held.
Tolentino, in a press conference yesterday at the Mandaue City Hall, said accidents involving faulty wirings should be prevented on election day.
Esmaelita Desaville, the Department of Education’s focal person on the barangay elections, said more than 1,500 teachers will serve as Board of Election Inspectors.
There are 515 clustered precincts in Mandaue, which has 189,093 registered voters.
Desaville said persons with disabilities will vote in classrooms that are closest to the school entrance.
To give jail inmates a chance to vote, a precinct will be put up at the City Jail in Barangay Looc.
Next week, Comelec personnel, the police and the teachers will hold a five-day election briefing.
Checkpoints and police patrol activities will also be intensified on election day.
Meanwhile, at Cebu City Hall, former councilor Jose Daluz III said he had recommended not to renew the contracts of Pasil’s barangay health workers (BHWs) Heldegardes Aba, Merla Abay and Virginia Estioca.
But before he made the recommendation, he said, he gave all three a chance to stop being involved in politics. They have been BHWs for over 20 years.
Daluz believes that the three BHWs are still playing politics because they sought the help of the City Council rather than the executive department.
Because of this, even Mayor Michael Rama is not inclined to give them a second chance.
Daluz said he merely recommended the non-renewal of their contracts.
If the three want their job back, they can approach the Local Health Board, which will approve the recommendation.
The former councilor said the three continue to campaign for barangay candidates who are allied with the Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan.