Dirty tricks in poll listup surface

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WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM? Registrants try to push their way past a guard who is trying to keep order during the registration of voters in Cebu City. TONEE DESPOJO/CEBU DAILY NEWS

TACLOBAN CITY—A 16-year-old boy from Tanauan town, Leyte, was among the early registrants for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in October.

Dexter told the Inquirer  he went to register at the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Tanauan after a candidate for SK chair promised him money.

“Of course, he will give me money once I cast my vote in his favor,”  the boy said.

Dexter was among hundreds of registrants who flocked to the Comelec offices in Leyte and Cebu when registration started on July 22. It will end on July 31.

Many were ferried by village officials on board barangay-owned vehicles and were provided meals.

This early, barangay officials and aspirants are moving to clinch victory in the October elections. Many are backed by politicians who have set their sights on elective positions in  2016.

Tanauan elections officer Cesar Cabidog said they were overwhelmed by the high number of youths who wanted to register because it was not expected.

Less than a week since the start of the registration, Tanauan

Comelec processed more than 800 registrants when it only had 1,956 registrants during the 2010 registration for the SK elections.

In just three days, 71,504 youths aged 15 to 17 registered in Eastern Visayas composed of Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte and Biliran.

During the 2010 SK elections, 188,018 youths registered in the region.

Cebu poll officials also noticed a high turnout of registrants although they have no figures yet.

In Cebu City, private vehicles were seen stopping by Plaza Independencia and outside the Comelec offices, carrying food for registrants.

Aside from free food, the registrants were ferried to Comelec offices on board buses and other vehicles owned by the barangays.

A candidate for SK councilor was seen bringing a box of ball pens, stamp pads and registration forms.

“I’m just preparing the needs of the registrants,” said Archie Lerio, who planned to run for SK councilor in Barangay Paknaan, Mandaue City.

Cebu City north district elections officer Marchel Sarno said providing free food and transportation couldn’t be considered a violation of the Omnibus Election Code, as  the campaign period starts on  Oct. 18.

In Mandaue City, 300 registered for the barangay elections and 800 for the SK elections on the first day of registration. In 2010, Mandaue City had 4,000 registrants for both SK and barangay elections.

Mandaue poll officer Anna Fleur Gujilde said that due to high turnout, barangay registration forms were filled out at tents outside the Comelec office and at  Mandaue City Sports Complex for SK registrants.

In Leyte, several village officials were seen herding young voters—providing them with a ride or transportation allowance and food.

In Jaro town, Leyte, a barangay official whose daughter will run for SK chair admitted that she “escorted” would-be SK voters to the local Comelec office.

“Let’s be practical. I want to ensure the win of my daughter,”  the barangay official said.

Felicismo Embalsado, Comelec assistant director for Eastern Visayas, asked the youth not to be persuaded by offers from barangay officials and aspirants.

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