2023 barangay and SK elections

Voter apathy prevails in Pampanga’s barangay, SK elections

Joann Manabat

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Voter apathy prevails in Pampanga’s barangay, SK elections

EMPTY PRECINCT. A woman sits alone inside a voting precinct in Barangay Day on October 30, 2023.

Joann Manabat/Rappler

Monitoring groups and poll watchers say voters in Pampanga were fewer on October 30 compared to the number of those who voted in the 2022 national elections

PAMPANGA, Philippines – Fatima, a 40-year-old resident of Barangay Duquit in Mabalacat City, did not vote during the recently concluded barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. She said she doesn’t believe that barangay officials can effect any concrete change.

“Copy-paste lang naman politika sa barangay sa local, puro trapo din; bata ni mayor and such. Wala namang clear platform,” Fatima told Rappler on Monday, October 30.

(Barangay-level politics is just a copy-paste of traditional politics; they follow the mayor and the like. They don’t have a clear platform.)

Fatima, who voted in the 2022 local and national elections, said that although voters need to pay attention to barangay and SK elections, candidates should also help their communities understand what their responsibilities are, such as ensuring daily security, cleanliness, and other socio-civic projects. These are some of the things that any barangay should prioritize, she said.

Fatima added, “Yun ang pinakamadali sana na makakapa-feel sa tao kung saan napupunta ang buwis nila. Ang daming nakawan, bihira ang patrol sa tanod dahil konti sila. Madumi ang mga kanal, walang program to address strays, etcetera.”

(That’s the easiest way for the public to understand where their taxes are going. There are many thefts, patrols are rare because there are only a few barangay tanod members. The sewers are dirty, and there’s no program to address the problem of stray animals, etcetera.)

Low voter turnout

Ella Angeles, 39, said she only voted on Monday so her name won’t be removed from the voters’ list.

“Two elections na akong hindi nakakaboto. Hindi rin ako dapat bumoto kasi hindi ko kilala ang mga kandidato,” Angeles said.

(I haven’t voted for two elections now. I shouldn’t even vote because I don’t know the candidates.)

Voters who successively fail to vote lose their registration, based on Commission on Elections (Comelec) rules.

According to monitoring groups and poll watchers, voters in various barangays in Pampanga on Monday were significantly fewer compared to the number of those who voted in the national elections.

Clothing, Pants, People
BREAK. Poll watchers at Dau Elementary School take a quick break during the October 30 elections. Joann Manabat/Rappler

Robert Guiao of a monitoring team in Barangay Dau, Mabalacat City, told Rappler that the low voter turnout may be due to people’s distrust toward manual voting, and difficulties in finding voting precincts.

“May mga kwarto na walang tao, umaga pa lang. Hindi katulad ng dati, noong national elections, kahit anong oras, marami ang bumoboto… Yung iba kasi umalis, wala silang pangalan. Yung iba, iba yung precinct numbers nila. Hindi ko rin alam bakit ganon,” Guiao said.

(There were empty rooms even in the morning, unlike before when during the national elections, there were many voters at any given time… Some left because they couldn’t find their names. Others had different precinct numbers. I don’t know what happened.)

A poll watcher in Barangay Santa Ines, Mabalacat, said one of the voters’ lists had 300 names, but only 100 voters arrived to cast their votes.

Based on Comelec records, Pampanga has a total of 1,646,684 voters and 531,297 SK voters in its 538 barangays.

‘Relatively peaceful’

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) in Region III said the grassroots elections in Central Luzon, including 47 identified election areas of concern in the region, were relatively peaceful.

PNP-Central Luzon director Brigadier General Jose Hidalgo Jr. attributed this to intensified security measures, and the presence of police and military personnel, in collaboration with the Comelec and other partner agencies. – Rappler.com

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