Comelec to hold hearings on postponing Negros Oriental barangay polls next week

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2023 02:52 PM

The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/File
The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold a series of public consultations and hearings next week on the proposed postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls in Negros Oriental, its spokesperson said Monday.

Comelec chairperson George Garcia and senior officials of the poll body will head to Negros Oriental from June 27 to 29 for the said hearings, spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco said in a public briefing.

Laudiangco said that through the hearings, the poll body wanted to assess the level of violence in the province by listening to sentiments and suggestions directly from its residents.

"Gusto po naming marinig mismo sa mga kababayan natin sa Negros Oriental [kung] ano ba ang sentimyento. Ganoon ba kataas ang threat at violence level para hindi maisagawa ang halalan? May pamamaraan ba kaming magagawa para hindi na i-postpone? Kung kinakailangang i-postpone, kailan ba natin pwedeng pinakamaagang masagawa ang halalan?" he said.

(We would like to hear straight from our fellowmen in Negros Oriental their sentiments on the proposed postponement. Is the level of threats and violence too high to hold an election? Is there a way for us not to postpone it? And if there is a need to postpone, when would be the possible earliest date to hold the election?)

"Ito po yung mga kasagutan na hahanapin namin sa loob ng tatlong araw," he added.

(We will be looking for answers to those questions within the three days of hearings.)

According to Comelec's Negros Oriental office, the hearings would be held simultaneously across the province's 25 cities and towns next week:

  • June 27: Canlaon City, Vallehermoso, Tayasan, Ayungon, Bais City, Pamplona, Sibulan, Dumaguete City, Zamboanguita, and Siaton
  • June 28:  Guihulngan City, La Libertad, Bindoy, Manjuyod, Tanjay City, Amlan, Valencia, Bacong, Santa Catalina, and Bayawan City
  • June 29: Jimalalud, Mabinay, San Jose, Dauin, and Basay

Calls to suspend or postpone the barangay elections in Negros Oriental were first made following the March 4 bloodbath that killed Governor Roel Degamo and 9 others.

More incidents of harassment and violence in the province were also revealed during the Senate panel's investigation on the Degamo slay last April, prompting suggestions from senators that included postponement as well as placing Negros Oriental under military or Comelec control.

Then Governor Guido Reyes and Vice Governor Manuel "Chaco" Sagarbarria both expressed support in the Senate's proposals. 

But Garcia said such suggestions "should be seriously and carefully studied."

"Although admittedly, we have the power to postpone the election in an area, however, there are stringent requirements of the law," Garcia had said, noting that a postpone could only last up to 30 days.

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