Comelec eyes Zamboanga special barangay polls before Nov. 30
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections plans to have the special barangay (village) elections in war-torn and now flood-ravaged Zamboanga City held before the terms of incumbent officials end on November 30.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said this would prevent incumbent officials from keeping their posts in a holdover capacity after their term expires at noon on Nov. 30.
“Preferably, we would want the special elections before November 30 to avoid any holdover,” Brillantes said at a press briefing.
“We want to avoid a holdover because we might be (accused) of favoring the incumbent,” added Commissioner Robert Lim, chair of the Comelec’s steering committee on barangay elections.
The Comelec postponed the elections in Zamboanga City’s 98 villages, originally scheduled on October 28 along with other barangay elections nationwide, due to the damage caused by the recent armed conflict there between government troops and some members of the Moro National Liberation Front.
More than 100,000 people were displaced by the crisis, which also resulted in the burning of at least 10,000 homes.
The Comelec added that many polling places were still being used as evacuation centers, with the problem compounded by recent flooding.
In postponing the Zamboanga elections, the Comelec said it had also taken into consideration the trauma experienced by the residents, and the difficulty in setting up voting centers and in deploying election materials.
Lim said the special elections in the city would be held after the clearing operations by security forces in areas affected by the siege.
The military told the Comelec it needed two to three weeks to finish the clearing operations, Lim noted, saying the military had to go slow because the place was littered with unexploded ordnance.
Nonetheless, there was a 70 to 80 percent likelihood that the special elections would be held before Nov. 30. Lim said.
“After the clearing operations, we would need around 19 days for activities mandated by law, including the six days for candidates to file their certificates of candidacy, 10 days for the campaign period, a day for the liquor ban, the election day itself,” he said. “Those days are no longer for preparations since ballots have already been printed and wrapped for shipment to the city.”
Brillantes added that the Comelec and other government agencies were assessing the situation in Zamboanga daily so they could set a new date for the elections as soon as possible.
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