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92m Filipinos to cast vote for brgy, SK polls

AREA OF CONCERN. Special Action Forces personnel stand guard as election officials prepare election material for delivery to voting precincts in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur province on Oct. 29, 2023, ahead of the nationwide election for village and youth representatives today. AFP
Vince Lopez, Maricel Cruz, Vito Barcelo, Alena Mae S. Flores & Macon Ramos-Araneta

PNP on full alert as Comelec lists more red ‘areas of concern’

More than 1.4 million people are vying for positions in the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) today (Oct. 30).

The candidates will compete for 672,016 seats — 42,001 punong barangay (barangay captain), 294,007 sangguniang barangay (councilor), 42,001 SK chairpersons (youth council chairman), and 294,007 SK members (youth council members).

Some 92 million people will be voting in 42,001 barangays in 149 cities and 1,485 municipalities.

Voters aged 15 to 17 will be given one ballot for SK, while those aged 18 to 30 will be given one SK ballot and one barangay ballot.

Voters over the age of 31, on the other hand, will be permitted only one ballot for barangay positions.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Sunday that 30 of the 151 violent incidents recorded since Aug. 28 were related to the 2023 BSKE. Thirty-three of the incidents were suspected to be election-related, while 88 were verified to be unrelated to the Oct. 30 polls.

PNP spokesperson and public information office chief Col. Jean Fajardo told reporters on Sunday that the number of verified election-related incidents had climbed from 26 as of Oct. 26.

A case is classified as election-related when it involves a candidate and when it has a direct effect on the electoral proceedings or might create political tensions within a certain barangay.

The Commission on Elections on Wednesday said more areas could be placed under its “red category” amid rising election-related violence across the country ahead of the Oct. 30 polls.

Comelec Chairman George Erwin Garcia said the number of areas under this category has risen to 361, with the addition of 119 areas, mostly from the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Law enforcement agencies began enforcing a nationwide ban on the sale or consumption of alcoholic beverages on Sunday ahead of Election Day,

Police from Fort Bonifacio Substation 1 in Taguig City moved to enforce the liquor ban early Sunday, conducting inspections in the entertainment establishments on 36th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City.

Some of the establishments were given a warning since alcoholic beverages were spotted on tables despite the ban. The police said they observed maximum tolerance because some of the patrons were already drunk.

Police Major Judge Rowe Donato, commander of Taguig City Police Substation 1, said the ban on alcoholic drinks would be strictly implemented during the barangay elections on Monday.

No one was arrested or brought to the police station early Sunday, however, as violators were merely warned.

Under election laws, violators of a liquor ban face one to six years in jail and will be stripped of their right to vote.

He added that no establishment in BGC had applied for an exemption from the liquor ban, which could be granted if the area is frequented by foreign guests.

Grocery and convenience stores are also covered by the two-day liquor ban.

Speaker Ferdinand Martin G. Romualdez on Sunday called for an orderly and peaceful conduct of the BSKE and urged all candidates to refrain from violence and embrace the true spirit of democracy.

The leader of the House of Representatives, comprising more than 300 district and sectoral legislators, underscored the importance of maintaining a safe and secure electoral process for the benefit of all communities.

“Our barangays serve as the foundation of our nation’s governance. It is crucial that these elections take place in an atmosphere of tranquility and respect for the rule of law,” Romualdez said.

“We implore all candidates and their supporters to act with civility, restraint, and respect for one another. The true strength of our democracy lies in our ability to peacefully choose our local leaders,” he said.

In other election-related developments:

• Elections officials and police confiscated almost P700,000 in counterfeit bills from an abandoned vehicle in Capiz on Saturday. Comelec Chairman George Garcia said a team led by Roxas City police chief Police Lt. Col. Francisco Paguia, responding to a tip, went to the Teodoro Arcenas Trade Center (TATC) in Barangay VIII on Saturday morning to check on the abandoned vehicle. They found bundles of one thousand peso bills, suspected to be counterfeit, amounting to P669,000. They also recovered genuine bills of assorted denominations amounting to P4,170.

• Garcia said three fires that hit separate schools in Maguindanao that were to be used as polling places were set deliberately. He said the elections there will push through in those barangays, despite the fires. “We will not be intimidated by those who commit those heinous crimes,” he said. “No election paraphernalia were destroyed during the incidents. The presence and number of our security forces will also be increased in the affected areas.”

• Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin Abalos said 31,125 detainees will cast their votes on Oct. 30. Based on Comelec rules, inmates who are formally charged and awaiting trial and those serving prison sentences of less than a year are qualified to vote in the local polls.

• The National Electrification Administration (NEA) said 92 electric cooperatives experienced power interruptions two days before Election Day. The 369 interruptions lasted an average of 79.26 minutes and affected some 2,909 barangays, the NEA said. The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, on the other hand, said transmission operations remained normal ahead of the Oct. 30 polls.

• Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called for the creation of a national federation of Sangguiniang Kabataan or youth councils. This, he said, would give the youth greater participation in governance.

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