2023 barangay, SK polls generally peaceful, orderly — Comelec
MANILA, Philippines — The 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections was generally peaceful, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Garcia said on Monday.
Garcia made the pronouncement despite several reported untoward incidents, including a shooting and strafing incident, a brawl, and even a group of disruptors who destroyed official ballots.
“Generally, ‘pag tinignan simula 5 a.m. […] hanggang kanina hanggang sa oras na ito, generally peaceful po ang ating eleksyon sa buong bansa, bagama’t may iilan na mga insidente ng karahasan na nangyari,” said Garcia in a press conference at the end of the elections, past 3 p.m.
Garcia also noted the successful conduct of election pilot tests such as mall voting, and the early voting hours for the vulnerable sector.
Garcia previously observed that early voting hours and mall polling places saw a “blockbuster” of registered voters.
Despite the positive assessment, several incidents were reported in various barangays nationwide.
One of the first reported incidents was the killing of two voters in a Maguindanao del Norte at around 6:00 a.m.
The incident occurred in Barangay Bugawas in Datu Odin Sinsuat.
Police claimed that the two were headed to their polling precincts before they were shot dead.
In Lanao del Norte, a 43-year old individual was shot near the polling center of Barangay Punod at around 6:10 a.m.
A candidate for village chairman in Lanao del Sur was also shot dead, this time by his own brother and political rival after a heated altercation inside the voting precinct in Butig at around 7:00 a.m.
A few hours later, a group of disruptors were reported to have destroyed official ballots in voting precincts in Puerto Princesa, Palawan at around 10:00 a.m.
Garcia confirmed the incident occurred in two precincts in Puerto Princesa Pilot Elementary School.
No failure of elections
Garcia, however, said that these incidents occurred in areas not under the red category, or places where a grave security threat was declared.
In fact, no violence-related incidents have so far been reported in the 365 areas under “red category,” said Garcia.
No declaration of failure of elections was also declared all throughout the period for casting of votes.
“Ang failure of election ay ‘pag may violence, threat, intimidation, terrorism, destruction or loss of election paraphernalia which would cause the impossibility of the holding of the election,” explained Garcia.
“But if the incident nears the closing of the polls then there was already an election, in which case we can proceed with the conduct thereof,” he added.
Garcia vowed to hold accountable those behind the disruptions and election-violence which occurred during election day.
According to Garcia, the counting of ballots nationwide is expected to end at around 8 to 8:30 p.m. Monday night, while the proclamations of winners may start at around 10 to 10:30 in the same evening.
However, it should be noted that the proclamation of 245 candidates — should they win — have been suspended after committing election offenses, such as premature campaigning and vote buying, among others.
In fact, the Comelec is set to suspend the proclamation of 62 more candidates within the day.