Podcast by BABYLYN KANO-OMAR
BONGAO, Tawi-Tawi—The Commission on Elections and local government units are recommending that 100 of the province’s 203 villages be classified as areas of immediate concern in the Oct. 28 barangay elections.
Should the Department of Interior and Local Government approve this, polling precincts in these barangays should have between five and seven police or military security on election day, Comelec and the LGUs said.
In Bongao, the provincial capital, 16 of 35 barangays have been named areas of concern.
Failure of elections were declared in certain areas in the past years. In 2007, elections in barangays Lahay-Lahay and Tandubas did not push through after a polling center burned down. In 2010, elections in Putat, South Ubian failed after members of the Board of Election Inspectors left the precincts fearing for their lives.
Checkpoints have been set up around the province to implement the election gun ban and to prevent crimes involving riding-in-tandem.
On Saturday night, unidentified men threw a grenade at the Tawi-Tawi police station. No one was reported hurt.
Police Provincial Director Senior Superintendent Joselito Salido of the Tawi-Tawi Philippine National Police Command appealed to candidates not to resort to violence.
“Huwag na nating gawin ito (acts of violence) kasi wala hong mabuting itutulong ang ganitong mga gawain (Let us not commit acts of violence, for these will not do us any good),” he said.
Comelec will initiate a peace covenant among candidates in all Tawi-Tawi towns after the deadline for filing of candidacies.
In Mindanao, officials give more attention to barangay polls, as election-related violence usually results in tension between opposing candidates for barangay captain.
At least 402 candidates will be competing as captains of the Tawi-Tawi barangays, while at least 1,608 will be running as kagawad (councilors), according to former OIC Provincial Election Supervisor and now Bongao Election Officer Abu Talipan.
There are seven seats for kagawads in every barangay.
Talipan also appealed to incumbent barangay captains to turn over 10 percent of their annual fund for election expenses on or before Friday, the deadline set by Comelec.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, barangays are mandated to allot funds for the conduct of local elections.
Some barangay captains who were not seeking for reelection refused to give their share, said Talipan.
Others, he said, had problems as banks in Tawi-Tawi had no cash following the cancellation of flights to the province since the Zamboanga standoff on Sept. 9.
Talipan said they are now waiting for the response of Comelec officials in Manila to their request to postpone the deadline.
Talipan clarified, however, that the officials do not have to shoulder the cost.
“You will not take it personally or from your own pocket. You get it from the general fund of the barangay,” he said.