Brownouts remain an election concern in Sulu, says Comelec

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 22 2023 11:10 PM

The past two elections were peaceful in the province of Sulu, but brownouts remain a nagging concern during the polls.

In fact, the lights went out during Commission on Elections Chairman George Erwin Garcia's visit to the local election office on Sunday morning.
This, Garcia said, is a major concern they have to address before the barangay and SK elections this October.
"Sadyang concern, kanina pinag-uusapan namin with the election officers, ano ba talaga ang dapat na makina na gagamitin sa Halalan? May nag suggest DRE, direct recording electronics, so ibig sabihin, touch screen na lang pu-pwede. Eh pero pe-pwede ba yung ganon kahit nawawalan ng kuryente? Eh pag nawalan ng kuryente, eh walang makakabotong botante," he said.
While the upcoming barangay and elections will be manual, he said finding out about the loss of power during this field visit will help the Comelec en banc in their future decisions.
"Base sa karanasan ng ating mga officials sa field, nalalaman natin ang tamang magiging desisyon ng COMELEC," Garcia added.

Historically, provinces in BaSulTa (Basilan-Sulu-Tawi-Tawi) experience rotational power outages due to insufficient energy. But during the 2022 elections, the Department of Energy ensured stable power supply in these provinces.

The COMELEC said they will factor brownouts in deciding on the technologies that will be used in future elections.

Meanwhile, Sulu's Provincial Election Supervisor Vidsfar Julie said new registrants for barangay and SK elections are lower than expected, as many candidates have been running unopposed.

"As of now, ang number of applications na na-receive namin starting December 12 when we started, is around 5,000 plus pa lang. Ine-expect namin around 10,000 sana ma-register namin," he said.
Despite the low number of people registering for the barangay and SK elections, Comelec Spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco noted that turnout of voters in Sulu, during the recent 2022 elections, has been higher than national average.
"Ang national average natin 84 percent, ang Sulu at Tawi-Tawi ay nasa 89-90 percent," Laudiangco said.
Comelec believes this reflects public trust in the electoral process, as security preparations have been good.
Laudiangco said the security preparations of the BaSulta (Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi) have been their template security preparation for other provinces.

"Kung binabantayan natin ang national elections, mas binabantayan natin, hindi lang sa Tawi-Tawi at Sulu, ang barangay at SK elections. Why? May napakalaking factor bakit volatile ang barangay. Pagdating sa barangay, personal ang labanan. Magkakaibigan, magkukumpare, magkakapitbahay, magkamag-anak," he said.
Comelec said they have escalated security preparations in Sulu to ensure voter safety.
"Ang threat, kakambal na sa trabaho yan. Pero nitong past 2022 national elections, walang gulo dito sa Sulu," said Provincial Election Supervisor Vidsfar Julie.

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