Zamboanga City barangay elections postponed
Clearing and normalization efforts in the conflict-torn city 'might be affected if the elections would push through,' says Comelec spokesman James Jimenez

File photo by Rappler/Leanne Jazul

MANILA, Philippines – Following the crisis brought about by the standoff between Muslim rebels and government troops in Zamboanga City, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday, October 8, postponed the barangay elections in the city.

Comelec Resolution No. 9793 postpones the barangay polls in Zamboanga City to a date not later than 30 days after the cessation of the cause for such postponement.

According to Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, the clear priority at this time is the rebuilding of Zamboanga City.

“There is a need to pave the way for a complete clearing operation and [normalization of] the condition of the entire city, which efforts might be affected if the elections would push through,” said Jimenez in a post on his Tumblr page.

Barely recovering from the conflict, Zamboanga City is now dealing with floods caused by heavy rains since Friday, October 4.

Security concerns were also raised, citing prevailing intelligence that further attacks on Zamboanga may take place. Of particular concern, said Jimenez, are the areas of Sibuco, Sirawai, and Siocon in Zamboanga del Norte; Tungawan in Zamboanga Sibugay; Sulu; and Basilan.

The poll body noted that available armed forces and police personnel, helping in security and rehabilitation activities in the city, would be depleted if a great portion of that force would be devoted to election duties. READ: PNP to ask Comelec to postpone barangay polls in Zambo

Moreover, the Comelec cited logistical difficulties in pushing through with the elections originally scheduled for October 28: 

  • difficulty in setting up accessible voting centers, especially for voters who are still spread out across different evacuation centers;
  • difficulty in the deployment and storage of official ballots and other election paraphernalia (the complex, housing the offices of the city election officers and treasurers, is still used as an evacuation center);
  • concern in the election results being “non-reflective of the true will of the people,” due to voters experiencing trauma and the presence of continuing threats which may make them hesitant to vote.

Zamboanga City was seized by Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) rebels from Sept 9-28, 2013. Rehabilitation and clearing operations in the city are ongoing. READ: Gov’t starts Zamboanga rebuilding efforts –

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