ILOILO CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the suspension of the proclamation of 25 aspirants in Western Visayas on various grounds should they win the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
“They know that they have pending cases. Our suspension order was served to our Board of Barangay Canvassers in the event these respondents win, they should not be proclaimed because of that suspension order,” Regional Elections Director Dennis Ausan said in an interview on Monday.
Data provided by the Comelec to the Police Regional Office (PRO) 6 (Western Visayas) showed 21 petitions for disqualification have been filed, three for denial of due course to or cancellation of their certificate of candidacy, and one for a nuisance candidate.
PRO-6 Director Brig. Gen. Sidney Villaflor, in a press conference, said he has already directed all provincial and city directors to take appropriate action.
“I gave the orders to different provincial directors to assess the situation on the ground on how we are going to deal with the situation,” he said.
The respondents consisted of five aspirants for punong barangay in Iloilo province, two in Negros Occidental, and one each in Capiz and Iloilo City, along with two SK chairpersons from Negros Occidental and Iloilo province, and seven barangay kagawad and seven SK kagawad in Negros Occidental.
Iloilo City Elections Assistant II Jonathan Sayno, in a separate interview, said the suspension of the proclamation was served to respondent Mark Winston Maloto on the grounds of being a nuisance candidate.
Sayno said petitioner Jose Martin Maloto claimed Mark Winston only created confusion with three of them running with the same family name, all new aspirants in Barangay San Juan, Molo.
Meanwhile, Ausan credited the peaceful conduct of the elections to the support of various stakeholders, although the Philippine National Police has recorded four suspected cases of election-related incidents.
Villaflor said they would validate the reported shooting incident involving a supporter and a relative of candidates in Calinog, Iloilo, as well as an SK candidate filing cases of rape and acts of lasciviousness against two different suspects, and alleged vote buying, all in Negros Occidental.
“If we compare other regions to us, we are relatively peaceful,” he said.
Seamless BSKE in Antique
In Antique, Provincial Election Supervisor Salud Milagros Villanueva said the 2023 BSKE was seamless in all 521 voting centers in the province.
“We would like to thank the Antiqueños for their cooperation in ensuring a peaceful and orderly election,” she said.
Villanueva said she has yet to secure details of the reported vote-buying incident in the municipality of Sibalom on Monday morning from the National Bureau of Investigation.
Brig. Gen. Villaflor checked on their deployed personnel in Antique and mentioned that the province has only three gun ban violators coming from the municipalities of Bugasong, San Jose de Buenavista, and Tibiao, who yielded one firearm, a knife, and fishing gear.
Villaflor said the police had been on top of the BSKE 2023 situation.
Peaceful polls in Negros Occidental’s ‘red’ areas
All three villages in Negros Occidental tagged as areas of grave concern or placed under the red category were able to peacefully hold the BSKE on Monday, police officials said.
These are Barangay Minapasuk, Calatrava, and Barangays Macagahay and Quintin Remo, which have the reported presence of the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army.
Maj. Ronald Santillan, chief of the Calatrava Municipal Police Station, noted that until after the voting ended at 3 p.m., there were no untoward incidents reported in the northern Negros municipality.
“Even in Barangay Minapasuk, it is also peaceful. We deployed additional security forces in the area to ensure that we can be vigilant during the casting of votes,” Santillan said in a telephone interview.
He added that the peaceful and orderly conduct of the elections in their area of responsibility was a result of a well-executed security plan.
In Moises Padilla, Maj. Joevito Bose, chief of the Moises Padilla Municipal Police Station, described the conduct of this year’s BSKE in the villages identified as election areas of concern as “very peaceful.”
However, the canvassing of votes for Barangays Macagahay and Quintin Remo, as well as Barangays Montilla and Inolingan were instead held in the Moises Padilla Elementary School in the town proper, as requested by the Comelec to ensure a secure accounting of votes.
“We are very thankful, with our constant prayer, the conduct of the elections turned out okay,” Bose said in a separate interview.
In Bacolod City, 364 persons deprived of liberty (PDLs) at the Metro Bacolod District Jail -Male Dormitory located at the Bacolod City Police Office compound also voted on Monday.
Among the registered voters were 80 PDLs eligible to vote for SK officials, indicating that many young people are in jail.
“The PDLs also have the right to vote. We allow them to exercise this right. Some are still young. We assist them in their rehabilitation while inside the jail,” Jail Officer 1 Charlene Valerio, head of community relations service, said in a radio interview. (PNA)