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PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – With the recall elections in Puerto Princesa City only two days away, a poll monitoring group urged voters to “ignore the tense and confusing environment” in the city and show up at the polling stations on May 8.
The recall elections on Friday pits incumbent Puerto Princesa Mayor Lucilo Bayron with former mayor Edward Hagedorn, following a successful petition for recall initiated by Al Roben Goh, a former city information officer, in March 2014.
Goh wanted to recall Bayron because of the city residents’ supposed “loss of trust and confidence” in him.
Bayron was the former political ally of Hagedorn, who was Puerto Princesa mayor from 1992 to 2001 and from 2002 to 2013.
In a statement on Wednesday, May 6, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) expressed concern that voters may not cast their ballots because of the politically-charged atmosphere in the city.
“It is understandable that some people would be turned off by the events in the city leading to the recall election. But these events should be treated as more of a catalyst for people to exercise their right to vote and for people to monitor that their votes are truly counted,” Rona Ann Caritos, LENTE’s acting executive director, said in a statement.
The group will be monitoring the recall elections in cooperation with the Puerto Princesa chapter of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
Caritos also urged voters to immediately report incidents of vote buying and selling, which LENTE identified as the two most common electoral offenses.
“We implore all candidates to not resort to vote buying or vote selling. We ask the police and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be more vigilant in accosting vote buyers and vote sellers,” she said.
Meanwhile, LENTE volunteer lawyer Takahiro Kenjie Aman stressed the need for the local Comelec and police to ensure the safe and orderly conduct of the polls.
“This is to ensure voter safety and security. Ensurance of such would translate to more voters exercising their right to suffrage,” Aman said.
Local Comelec spokesperson Jomel Ordas earlier said officials have already met with the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the board of election inspectors to prepare for the polls.
A total of 126,162 registered voters are set to cast their ballots in the city’s 53 polling centers.
Malacañang earlier declared May 8 as a special non-working holiday to allow voters to participate in the elections. – Rappler.com