MANILA – The filing of the certificates of candidacy (COCs) in the barangay elections started Friday, with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) warning bets against election overspending and premature campaigning.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said the offices of the poll body will accept COCs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on October 11, 12, 14, 15, 16 and 17.
The Comelec said there are about 460,000 candidates in the upcoming elections.
In Comelec's office in Arroceros, Manila, candidates began arriving as early as 4 a.m.. They said they want to avoid the last-minute filing of COCs.
Brillantes warned candidates against premature campaigning and advised those who will file their COCs to refrain from bringing their supporters to the Comelec.
"Hindi kami marunong magbiro. Tutuluyan namin lahat 'yan, 'di bale ma-disqualify lahat, sumunod lang sila sa batas," Brillantes told dzMM.
The campaign period will run from October 18 to 26. The election day will be on the 28th.
Apart from premature campaigning, the Comelec also warned candidates against election overspending. A candidate is only allowed to spend P5 per voter.
A liquor ban will also be implemented on October 27 and 28.
A 45-day gun ban, meanwhile, started on September 28. Under the law, the gun ban will be in effect from Sept. 28 to Nov. 12, or 30 days before and 15 days after the Oct. 28 elections.
7,060 barangays on PNP watch list
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said they are currently monitoring 7,060 barangays as election watch list areas, 6,904 of which are considered "areas of concern" and 156 as "areas of immediate concern."
These represent 16 percent of the total 42,027 barangays in the Philippines.
These are mostly concentrated in Masbate, Compostela Valley, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), Region 12 and Region 5.
The PNP said the threats in these areas were determined by the presence of intense political rivalry and armed groups.
There are 25 private armed groups currently active, according to the PNP. They are located in Region 1 and the Cordillera region.
Despite these threats, the PNP said they are on track as far as security preparations for the upcoming elections are concerned.
The PNP, AFP and Comelec have already activated the Joint Security Coordinating Councils on the regional and national levels to ensure that the conduct of the elections would be as peaceful as possible.
However, the agencies noted the lack of funds needed to secure the elections.
Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said Congress has alloted P100 million for election security, but they need P400 million more, mostly for fuel and mobility requirements.
Lim said they will be requesting the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for additional funding.
Nonetheless, the AFP and PNP assured that they will still carry on with their mandate despite the limitations.
Likewise, the Comelec also urged the public to be on alert for possible third-termers who would still file their COCs for the elections.
The poll body earlier uploaded on its website a list of barangay captains and councilors (kagawad) who are already on their third term and therefore not eligible anymore for re-election.
Candidates violating this policy on term limits face election offense and disqualification. They may also be charged with material misreprentation and perjury. – reports from Pia Gutierrez and Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News; Noel Alamar, dzMM