MANILA, Philippines – Despite the hype and the campaigning, the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections have traditionally had lower voter turnout, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said voters would likely stay home since they apparently still have a “hang-over” from last May’s national electoral exercise.
“This time we are hopeful that it might turn out differently, because it seems like the people still have a hang-over from the national election. But still, history is a strong factor here, that people hardly participate in (barangay) elections,” he said.
Jimenez said the green light is on for the conduct of the village polls tomorrow, even as some parts of northern Luzon are still reeling from the havoc wrought by typhoon “Juan.”
“All systems are green – not so bright green but green,” Jimenez said. “We are pretty optimistic that we can pull this off.”
Jimenez claimed Comelec is still “looking closely” at the areas affected by the typhoon, particularly in the remote towns of Isabela that were virtually flattened by the storm last Monday.
Comelec earlier ordered the postponement of the barangay elections in the isolated towns of Maconacon, Divilican and Palanan in Isabela.
“There are still many places that do not have power and are inaccessible. Our evaluation continues. We cannot say for certain if we’ll no longer cancel or suspend the election (in certain areas),” Jimenez said.
Jimenez also revealed recent developments in Mindanao have put the Comelec on alert, noting the bombing of a passenger bus in North Cotabato that killed ten people and injured several others.
“Violence might play a role and there might be some failure of election declared if there’s an effect on the voters’ turn out ….. In Cotabato, they had a bombing recently so we are looking at that closely,” he added.
Up for grabs in tomorrow’s polls are 42,025 and 294,175 seats for barangay chairmen and barangay kagawads (councilors) and 42,025 for SK chairmen and 294,175 slots for SK kagawads.
Comelec records showed a total of 163,484 clustered or grouped polling precincts for the synchronized polls across the country.
The registered voters for the barangay election is 52.7 million and 2.4 million for the SK polls.
Jimenez said Comelec had already delivered 90 to 95 percent of the election supplies to the city/municipal treasurer’s office across the country.
Even amid the devastation left by typhoon Juan last Monday, Comelec sustained preparations for tomorrow’s election with the delivery of election paraphernalia, except in some parts of Northern Luzon that have been rendered inaccessible because of flooding and landslides.
The Comelec had advised voters to prepare a list of their candidates to save time in voting.
Jimenez added there are ball pens available in polling precincts but voters are allowed bring their pens.
Jimenez though warned against using red inked pens because their votes might be considered later on as “marked ballots” in case of electoral protest.
Sheila Crisostomo, Philippine Star