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High turnout seen as polls take place in Zambales


08:10 PM February 3rd, 2012

February 3rd, 2012 08:10 PM

IBA, Zambales—A high turnout of voters is expected Saturday in special elections to replace the late Antonio Diaz as representative of Zambales’ second district.

The winner will serve the district for only a year, until the next local elections in 2013.

Election watchers said they expect a 70-percent turnout.

At least 300,000 voters are expected to vote starting at 7 a.m. in clustered precincts in the towns of Botolan, Cabangan, Candelaria, Iba, Masinloc, Palauig, San Antonio, San Felipe, San Narciso and Sta. Cruz, which make up the second district.

Five candidates have thrown their hats into the race: former Vice Gov. Cheryl Deloso-Montalla (Liberal Party), Rica Victoria Diaz-Arambulo (Nacionalista Party), Jun Omar Ebdane (Partido ng Manggagawa at Magsasaka), Board Member Wilfredo Pangan (Independent) and Alfred Mendoza (Independent).

The younger Ebdane, currently provincial administrator, has vowed to support his father’s programs if elected as congressman.

Elaiza Sabile-David, Zambales election supervisor, said she expects a huge turnout today. The low turnout during the 2010 elections, she said, was due to the people’s unfamiliarity with automated elections.

“But this time we are back to manual elections,” she said.

She said no election-related violence has been reported to date, except for a warning given by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to candidates who violated campaign protocol.

Arambulo has complained of massive vote-buying taking place in the district, but Comelec has focused its attention instead on today’s elections.

A Comelec team, headed by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, has been monitoring campaign rallies and expenses of candidates. Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes was expected here yesterday to supervise the canvassing and the proclamation of the new representative on Saturday.

Senior Supt. Francisco Santiago, Zambales police director, said 600 policemen had been deployed to secure the voting. They were augmented by 400 soldiers from the Army’s 24th Infantry Brigade.

Voting will end at 3 p.m. Voters within 30 meters of precincts would be allowed to vote after the deadline.

Poll clerks are to prepare a list of voters, call out voters’ names for their turn to cast their ballots and those who are called but are not in the precinct when their names are announced would not be allowed to vote at all.

Voters would write down the name of his choice candidate on the ballot, fold it, return it to the board of election inspectors and affix his thumbprint on the ballot coupon. Robert Gonzaga, Inquirer Central Luzon and Jerome Aning in Manila

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