MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported a low turnout of people who filed certificates of candidacy (COCs) yesterday for the Oct. 25 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
“So far, only a few have filed their COCs. But we really expected that because it’s part of the strategy of candidates,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in a telephone interview.
The filing of COCs started yesterday and will end midnight of Oct. 13.
The campaign period starts on Oct. 14 and ends on Oct. 23.
Jimenez said that upon filing a COC, a candidate is prohibited from campaigning directly or indirectly until the start of the campaign period. Because of this, candidates prefer to file their COCs on the last day.
He clarified that the November 2009 ruling of the Supreme Court that decriminalized premature campaigning does not apply in the upcoming synchronized elections.
The Court ruling benefited the candidates in the elections last May 10 who were able to campaign during the three-month gap between the filing of COCs and the start of the campaign period then.
“It’s a special case. We were automated (elections) then but now, the barangay and SK elections will be manual,” he added.
During the automated election, the Comelec had to know the names of the candidates in advance for the printing of the ballots so the filing of COCs was scheduled way before the campaign period.
For the upcoming elections, the Comelec will be using blank ballots where voters will write the names of their bets.
Police chiefs meet mayors over gun ban
Calabarzon police director Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome conducted a dialogue with the mayors and police chiefs of Region 4 after the arrest of Mayor Angel Ardiente Jr. of Guinayangan, Quezon, and five security escorts for violating the gun ban last Wednesday.
Bartolome said the police would be conducting a series of seminars and dialogues with the League of Municipalities chapters in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, and Quezon.
“We discussed the role of the police in the approaching barangay and SK polls, including the strictly imposed Comelec gun ban and the recall of all security detail from VIP persons and local executives and personalities, all of the mayors attended have expressed their support for gun ban, including Mayor Ardiente,” Bartolome told reporters.
He said Calabarzon policemen in complete uniforms would set up checkpoints on major roads and intensify campaign “Sita Bakal” operations to prevent election-related violent incidents.
Bartolome said Mayor Ardiente, his aides Pablito Rodriquez, Jones Cambronero Jr., Jason Nosquial, a close-in bodyguard Vicente Aman, and a certain Rufo Proceso Jr. were nabbed after authorities discovered several high powered firearms inside their car that was stopped in Barangay Sumulong, Guinayangan.
He said police have filed charges for violation of Comelec Resolution 9028 (gun ban) against Ardiente and his men.
Meanwhile, police arrested another violator of the Comelec gun ban in Pasig City last Friday morning.
National Capital Regional Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Leocadio Santiago said Fernando Cano, 43, of 2105 Velasco Ave., Napico, Pasig became the 12th person nabbed in Metro Manila for violating the gun ban since the election period started last Sept. 25.
Santiago said Cano was on board his blue Suzuki motorcycle with license plate 5029NS when he was stopped at a police checkpoint along Marcos Highway in barangay San Roque, Marikina City at about 1:20 a.m. yesterday.
Inspector Joel Gomez, of the District Public Safety Battalion (DPSB) of the Eastern Police District (EPD), said Cano yielded a Taurus caliber .45 automatic pistol loaded with a magazine with eight rounds of ammunition.
During verification, Gomez claimed Cano presented an expired gun license and permit to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR).
Santiago said of the 12 persons arrested for violation of the gun ban in Metro Manila, eight were civilians, two were policemen and two government employees.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Teodoro Casiño called on Congress yesterday to fast-track the passage of a law allowing media practitioners to vote early in every election in light of the barangay elections on Oct. 25.
House Bill 1960 titled the “Early Voting for Media Act of 2010” will grant media practitioners assigned in areas other than their polling places the right to participate in the elections through early voting. At present, the duties of journalists in covering elections prevent them from exercising their right to suffrage, he said.
“Some of our compatriots, who carry out public service and cannot cast their votes on election day are already given early voting rights – specifically military and police personnel. Our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) also vote early as absentee voters. Our media practitioners should now be accorded the same rights,” Casiño said.
“Often, most of the country’s media practitioners get stationed in different parts of the country to closely monitor election events. More often than not, they do not have enough time and capacity to travel to their own polling precincts and vote. It is only fair to extend the opportunity to members of the media,” he said.
In the 14th Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate approved separate bills calling for advance voting in certain areas and of certain sectors, including the media, detainees yet to be convicted and uniformed personnel. Congress, however, failed to pass a reconciled version of House Bill 6928 and Senate Bill 3570.
Sheila Crisostomo, Philippine Star