DUMAGUETE CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental said Friday that it would begin accepting certificates of candidacy on Nov. 6 in time for the Dec. 9 special elections in the province’s third congressional district.
The filing of COCs at the provincial Comelec office in this capital city would run until Nov. 8, lawyer Elisero Labaria, acting provincial election supervisor, told the Philippine News Agency.
“We are actually ready for the special elections, except that we are awaiting word from the Comelec central office regarding the forms to be used for the filing of the COCs,” he said.
The election period will officially begin on Nov. 9, he said, adding that there have been no changes so far in the calendar of activities for the special elections as stipulated in Comelec Resolution No. 10945 promulgated last Aug. 30.
The Comelec announced in August the holding of the special elections in the third district to fill the vacancy left by then Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr., who was expelled by the House of Representatives for several reasons, including his continued absences and refusal to return to the country and being tagged as the alleged mastermind in the March 4 assassination of Governor Roel Degamo.
In the absence of Teves, House Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez was named caretaker of the 3rd legislative district of Negros Oriental.
Labaria said there is no word yet as to whether the third district only or the entire Negros Oriental will be placed under Comelec control.
The third district comprises Valencia, Bacong, Dauin, Zamboanguita, Siaton, Sta. Catalina, Bayawan City, and Basay in the south of the province. It has a total of 301,264 registered voters.
In a press conference in Manila, Comelec chairman George Garcia said they are studying the possibility of placing the entire third district of Negros Oriental under Comelec control.
He said the decision will be made next week.
Meanwhile, Garcia urged Congress to pass a law that will “properly define” a non-partisan barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE).
He said through legislation, the previous Supreme Court decision allowing politicians to endorse barangay candidates will be overruled.
"In Quintos vs. Comelec, the SC said they can get involved in political activities because they are political by nature. But that is where the non-partisan nature of the BSKE gets destroyed," he said.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, the conduct of the village and youth polls must be non-partisan.
In the last 2023 BSKE, some local officials, including mayors, were accused of being involved in election activities.
Meanwhile, the security forces deployed to Negros Oriental for election duty in relation to the Comelec control status have started returning to their mother units, Lt. Stephen Polinar, spokesperson of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office (NOPPO), said.
Polinar said the province was generally peaceful throughout the BSKE up to the observance of All Saints’ and All Souls' Days. (with a report from Ferdinand Patinio/PNA)