Clustering of polling centers in Basilan recommended

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News Zamboanga

At least 87 polling centers in Basilan have been recommended to be clustered in safer and more accessible areas due to security threats.

Basilan police director Sr. Supt. Oscar Nantes said there are limited personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to cover the entire province which has over 22 polling centers.

Nantes said the polling centers recommended to be clustered are in some areas of Tipo-tipo, Al-Barka, Ungkaya Pukan, Sumisip and other nearby municipalities.

Atty. Reynold Macarambon, acting supervisor of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Basilan, said the en banc has yet to approve the proposed clustering of polling centers.

Aside from security concerns, Comelec officials in the province also face minor technical problems on the vote counting machines (VCMs).

During the final testing and sealing on Friday, at least three VCMs malfunctioned. These were immediately replaced with contingency machines.

Another issue that needs attention is power supply, as some far-flung areas in Basilan remain isolated and not connected to the power grid.

Macarambon said they are concerned over the retrieval of the machines and transmission of the results.