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 Comelec Reins in Poll Spending

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PostSubject: Comelec Reins in Poll Spending    Mon Oct 11, 2010 10:26 am

October 10, 2010, 4:09pm

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Sunday reminded candidates for the October 25 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections not to overspend in their campaigns.

The poll body issued the reminder in view of the start of the campaign period on October 14, 2010.

“No candidate shall spend for his election campaign an aggregate amount exceeding P3 for every registered voter in the barangay where he seeks to be elected,” Comelec Resolution 9043 read.

The en banc resolution said violation of the directive would constitute an election offense that carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment as well as prohibition to hold public office and suspension of the right to vote.

Candidates – winning or losing – are also mandated by the Comelec to file their Statements of Contributions and Expenditures not later than November 10 at the Office of the Election Officer, where he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC).

“No person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures,” read the resolution.

This, the Comelec said, will include the amounts of “every contribution” and “every expenditure” and are supported by receipts and other documents. The campaign period for the October 25 polls will end on October 23.

As this developed, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said it will deploy 85 percent of its personnel in the field as early as a week before the October 25 polls to ensure the peaceful and credible conduct of the elections, a police official revealed Sunday.

Senior Supt. Agrimero Cruz, Jr., PNP spokesman, said the move is to maximize police visibility and target-hardening, which he said is essential in maintaining peace and order before, during and after the conduct of the elections.

“We are just waiting for the Chief PNP (Director General Raul Bacalzo) to declare the full alert status, once it takes effect, we will be deploying 85 percent of our personnel in the field,” said Cruz in an interview.

The official said the 85 percent deployment translates to more or less 115,000 uniformed policemen. The PNP, he said, is a 135,000-strong organization.

Cruz said those who will be deployed in the field are the ones that will be securing poll precincts, conduct security patrols and man checkpoints across the country.

Security officials earlier said that they are expecting the rise in violent incidents for the barangay elections and SK elections due to the number of posts that will be contested, adding that rivalry is also more intense at the grassroots level.

While they have not formally recorded any election-related violent incident for this month’s elections, Cruz said they are currently reviewing if the six incidents that happened this month are poll-related.

The PNP spokesman was referring to the killing of an election officer in Basilan and the ambush in Lanao del Norte that left another election officer wounded, the killing of a barangay captain in Sultan Kudarat, the assassination of a judge and a town treasurer in Ilocos provinces, and the killing of a vice mayor in Nueva Ecija.

“These are possible election-related violent incidents but we are still validating,” said Cruz.

Amid a wide coverage for the implementation of the security measures for more than 42,000 barangays in the country where elections will be held, Cruz said they will be focusing their intention to the 2,301 barangays listed in poll watch list.

Such strategy, he said, is important to make up for the limited number of police personnel, although he said that the military will be deploying appropriate number of soldiers to serve as augmentation forces.

Meanwhile, in order to help prevent election-related violence, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) Sunday recommended the signing of a peace covenant among candidates.

PPCRV Chairperson Henrietta de Villa cited the need to forge a peace covenant knowing how heated the Barangay and SK polls are in the country.

“More so in areas where the fight is stiff, the campaign might lead to election-related violence… I think that is where we should have this peace covenant signing,” she said in a phone interview.

The former ambassador to the Vatican, however, said that having a peace covenant is no guarantee that there will be no more violence in the area.

“Sometimes, candidates just sign the peace covenant without really understanding its significance, butm what is important is to be able to create that environment,” said de Villa.

Last Friday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) placed some 2,301 barangays in its Election Watchlist of Areas (EWA) with the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) topping the list.

In the Comelec EWA, 2,077 areas are under Category 2 led by the ARMM with 734.

Regions with high number of EWAs under Category 2 are Bicol Region (275); Soccsksargen (172); Davao Region (160); and Northern Mindanao (148). Under Category 1, a total of 224 areas have been identified as an EWA led by the 34 coming from the ARMM.

Other regions in Category 1 with high number of EWAs are Cagayan Valley (25); Bicol Region (23); Western Visayas (19); and Calabarzon (19).

The National Capital Region placed last with only two areas (Barangay Bagumbayan, Taguig City and Barangay Payatas, Quezon City).

The EWA under Category 1 are areas with occurrence of politically motivated violent incidents having a high probability, while Category 2 are those areas where there are serious armed threats posed by armed groups such as communist movements or secessionist groups.

In Caloocan City, the police, Comelec and Department of Education (DepEd) will confer this week to discuss measures in preparation for the coming barangay and SK elections.

Senior Supt. Jude W. Santos of the Caloocan City Police said areas of concern are the role of the police in escorting poll officials in the distribution and retrieval of ballot boxes at poling precincts, and the marking of vehicles by the Comelec.

Police visibility, conducting regular checkpoints in strategic areas especially in the Bukid area are among the areas to be discussed in the preparation, Santos said.

Santos downplayed violence in the city, saying his concern only was after the voting and during the counting of ballots where he said he is expecting some sort of violence by supporters.

"Ang kinakatakutan ko lang pag uwi-an na ng mga supporters pagkatapos ng eleksyon, baka magkagulo laluna na sa counting of votes." Santos said.

He said the city has enough personnel from the local police and an augmentation from the military to secure the election proceedings.

He said that aside from police patrol, liquor ban has also been intensified to minimize violence caused by intoxicating liquor before and during the election period.

"Tuluy-tuluy lang ang aming kampanya, kinakailangan suyurin ang mga barangay para maiwasan ang ano mang karahasan," Santos said. (with reports by Aaron Recuenco and Ed Mahilum)

by mb
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