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Comelec, cops, power all set for polls in Central Luzon

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Philippines—It’s all systems go for the elections in Central Luzon, the third vote-rich region in the country, but it’s up to the 3,756 local candidates and 5.8 million voters to make the polls safe and fair, officials said.

Rafael Olaño, regional director of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), said 48 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines had been replaced after initial tests showed problems.

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Central Luzon has 7,903 clustered precincts and a technician is assigned to each of the 2,825 voting centers, Olaño said in a briefing last week.

As a contingency, he said the Comelec had put on standby one PCOS machine for each of the 14 cities and 116 towns in seven provinces in the region.

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At least 2,806 soldiers are securing the polls today, said Maj. Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang, chief of the Philippine Army’s 7th Infantry Division based at Fort Magsaysay, Nueva Ecija.

“The bottom line is how the citizens will make this election safe and fair. It will depend on how they will resist temptations that will undermine our democracy,” Catapang said.

A total of 8,912 police personnel are securing polling precincts, said Senior Supt. Moro Virgilio Lazo, deputy regional police director for operations.

He said the police have identified three areas of concern in Aurora, five in Bataan, 11 in Bulacan, 23 in Nueva Ecija, nine in Pampanga, 13 in Tarlac and two in Zambales.

Central Luzon is not expected to experience power interruptions today because it has a reserve of 1,091 megawatts, a representative from the Department of Energy said during the briefing.

Isabelita Borres, Department of Education regional director, said 15,800 teachers in the region had been trained as members of the board of election inspectors.

She said Task Force DepEd has tapped paralegal services to assist teachers facing harassment.

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In Nueva Ecija, Senior Supt. Crizaldo Nieves, provincial police director, said 2,165 policemen and soldiers have been assigned to different towns and cities in the province, with two armed personnel carrier moving around for visibility.

Comelec officials said three compact flash cards that malfunctioned during testing and sealing in Guimba town and San Jose and Gapan cities would be replaced in time for today’s elections. Power supply in nine of 14 villages in Pantabangan town had been restored on Thursday after it was cut off on March 7 due to the mounting debts of the local government-owned Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services.—Reports from Tonette Orejas, Anselmo Roque, Armand Galang, Carmela Reyes-Estrope and Jhoanna Marie Buenaobra, Inquirer Central Luzon, and Cristina Arzadon, Gabriel Cardinoza, Yolanda Sotelo, Melvin Gascon and Frank Cimatu, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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TAGS: Central Luzon, Elections, Philippines - Regions, Politics
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