…but poll body looking to postpone elections in more typhoon-hit areas
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - Despite earlier hitches, all materials related to Monday's elections will be delivered to all barangays across the country on Sunday, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said.
In an interview with ANC, Jimenez said “there’s a bit of good news there. A lot of deliveries that we were running late on, left Manila [Saturday] night…So, it looks like by 2:00 p.m. [today], we’ll be a hundred percent.”
The poll body has been working nonstop during the last few days for the printing of ballots and management of other paraphernalia for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
The delivery of some of the election-related materials, however, was hampered by the onslaught of typhoon Juan.
“In some cases, some ballots that were sent were damaged in transit. Some of them arrived in the wrong places. We have those little things that fall through the cracks. We started replacing them last night and today,” he said.
Jimenez noted that Comelec employees even had to work all throughout Saturday night.
“So the strategy is this: We had lot of shipments go out last night by sea and by air this very very early morning. We've arranged some flights direct to some places,” he said.
He said the Comelec hopes that the polls tomorrow will be 90% to 95% successful.
The Comelec has already decided to suspend the elections in 3 areas in Isabela: Divilacan, Maconacon and Palanan. These 3 were badly hit by typhoon Juan.
“We’re also looking at several other places in Abra, Mountain Province and Batanes,” he said.
The decision will be released later Sunday.
“It all really depends on how quickly reconstruction efforts can proceed, but there are some places where storm damage is so really bad,” he said.
Some schools, which are used during elections, have been transformed into evacuation centers.
“Gymnasiums have been offered to us, but again not all of them are fit for election purposes. In a lot of places also, the major concern is lack of power…but we've moved up the election hours from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” he said.
Comelec is also looking at postponing elections in certain parts of Mindanao because of the violence there, he added.
“We have some issues in the south about teachers being afraid to serve. We have some contingency measures for that but of course we can't totally shut out the possibility of some places having failure of elections,” he said.
Police cadets as BEIs
The Philippine National Police (PNP) has already offered its services to man violence-prone areas.
Some cadets will even be used as board of election inspectors (BEIs).
In a separate interview with ANC, PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Agrimero Cruz, Jr. said “we have prepared enough personnel to man all the security assistance desks in all the barangays to secure the polling centers in the different provinces.”
Police are specifically monitoring Maguindanao and Lanao.
“Historically, we always see to it that we are more prepared for the barangay and SK elections because these elections are more personal in terms of the proximity of the contending political factions,” Cruz said.
However, the 2010 elections are relatively more peaceful compared to previous ones, he said.
Meanwhile, the poll body has ordered the filing of disqualification cases against more than 4,000 candidates in the barangay elections found to have already served 4 to 5 terms.
In Resolution 9077, the Comelec en banc ordered the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to submit a list of the names of these candidates.
The Comelec will then refer the names to its Law department, which will file the proper cases.
In a separate press conference, Jimenez said hearings will be conducted immediately. These would be summary in nature, meaning a case would only be heard through pleadings and position papers.
Each division handling a case will only be given three days to come up with a decision.
Jimenez said the erring candidates may also face criminal charges of perjury and material misrepresentation.
Names of suspected multiple termers will be forwarded to the election officers who will place an asterisk on their names to inform voters of their pending disqualification cases.
Their votes, however, would only be considered stray votes in the event that these candidates are officially disqualified.
If a multiple termer wins, his or her proclamation will be suspended pending the resolution of his or her disqualification case. – with a report from Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News