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MANILA, Philippines – The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Negros Oriental will push through on October 30, in simulcast with the rest of the country.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said on Monday, September 18, that it rejected calls to postpone the electoral exercise in the province.
Negros Oriental, however, will be placed under Comelec control, which means the commission has direct supervision over officials and employees, and full control over law enforcement agencies.
In June, the Comelec held a three-day public hearing across the province to get the pulse of voters there on the suggestions to delay the polls.
The consultation was the result of the uptick in violence in the province following the assassination of governor Roel Degamo in March, a death that continues to reverberate throughout Negros Oriental.
Residents were divided on the proposal, with both parties passionate about their stand.
The Diocesan Electoral Board – composed of local chapters of election watchdogs Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) – pushed for a postponement by 30 days, to allow security forces to concentrate their efforts in the province.
Degamo’s widow, Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, and eight other mayors also wanted to postpone the polls. They said the political machinery of the alleged mastermind even in past killings remains intact, “creating an atmosphere of fear and intimidation.”
Meanwhile, the province’s top leaders – Negros Oriental Governor Chaco Sagarbarria and Vice Governor Jaime Reyes – wanted the polls to continue on October 30, banking on police data that the number of crime incidents in the province in the 100 days after Degamo’s assassination was lower compared to the same time frame prior to the attack.
The congressional seat for Negros Oriental’s 3rd District has also been declared vacant, and a special election is scheduled on December 9. – Rappler.com