Monday, November 19, 2018
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Low turnout in Ilocos Sur special polls—Comelec

VIGAN CITY, Philippines – The special election held to fill the vacancy left by the imprisonment in Hong Kong of former Ilocos Sur Representative Ronald Singson went on peacefully on Saturday, without any report of violent incidents, Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes said here.

Brillantes, however, said the turnout could be “a little lower than expected.”

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“My only worry is the turnout. We targeted a turnout of about 55 to 60 percent. What’s important is the elections are honest and orderly,” he told reporters here.

Singson’s brother, Vigan City Vice Mayor Ryan Luis Singson, and lawyer Beltrand Baterina, vied for the post. The Singson brothers are sons of Ilocos Sur Governor Luis “Chavit” Singson.

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The first congressional district, which covers the capital Vigan and 10 other towns, has 161,975 registered voters.

Vice Mayor Singson, accompanied by his wife, mother and three siblings, voted at 7:30 a.m. in Precinct 19-A at the Vigan Central School. Governor Singson came in later to cast his vote.

Baterina voted at 10:30 a.m. in Precinct 15-A at the Santo Domingo South Central School in Santo Domingo town. He was accompanied by his campaign manager, former Board Member Efren Rafanan.

Marino Salas, Ilocos Sur election officer, said the Comelec’s initial report after the precincts closed on Saturday showed a turnout of between 55 and 65 percent.

Salas said they were expecting the winner to be proclaimed by noon Sunday.

Brillantes visited voting precincts in this city and the towns of Cabugao and Santo Domingo, where the turnout was reported to be at 60 percent. He also went to San Ildefonso town, which he described as having one of the lowest turnouts of below 50 percent.

Village officials said the low turnout was expected because only one post was being contested, unlike in a general elections when families in Ilocos Sur go out and vote together.

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Others said voters may not have been given the usual “incentive” in exchange for their votes, although an official of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting said in Manila that rampant vote buying had been reported by its staff.

“We did not receive any amount even for gasoline, so we would rather skip this election,” a village official, quoting residents, said.

Brillantes said he went to Ilocos Sur as an observer. “I came here because this is my home province and this is the first time that I will be coming back for an election,” he said.

Brillantes was accompanied by Commissioner Elias Yusoph, the supervisor for special elections.

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TAGS: Comelec, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Commission on Elections, Elections, House of Representatives, Ilocos Sur Rep. Ronald Singson, Politics, Special Polls
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