Comelec expects intense rivalries in barangay elections

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MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections expects political rivalries in the upcoming barangay elections to be more intense and personal than the recent national elections, a Comelec official said Friday.

Election Commissioner Luie Tito Guia said the Comelec was improving its security preparations for the October 28 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections because of the expected increase in political tensions at the local level.

“Barangay elections have a different dynamic. The rivalries in the barangay level is mostly personal. The fighting is face to face,” Guia said at a forum in Quezon City. “The rivals are sometimes neighbors. While we can’t anticipate if we will have more or less election-related violence, the most important thing is to maintain the coordination forged in the previous elections and improve it even further.”

Ramon Casiple, chair of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER), agreed that the rivalries in barangay and SK elections would be more intense because politicians were now more involved in what is supposed to be a non-partisan political exercise.

“For all intents and purposes, barangay and SK elections have become partisan,” Casiple said at the same forum.

He said the Comelec and other groups should secure the help of local government officials through peace covenants to prevent the outbreak of violence.

“The best way to do that is to have more peace covenants. It should also include local officials, like the mayor and other town-level authorities, so that they would not meddle with the barangay elections,” Casiple said.

“While political parties are barred from participating, the reality is… usually the slate of the local mayor goes against that of his foe. That’s the source of the intensity  in barangay elections,” he added.

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