(PAGASA 24-HOUR PUBLIC WEATHER FORECAST as of Monday, 26 February 2024) Easterlies affecting the eastern section of the country. Butuan City, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur will experience Partly cloudy to cloudy skies with isolated rainshowers or thunderstorms due to Easterlies / Localized Thunderstorms. Possible flash floods or landslides during severe thunderstorms. Light to Moderate winds coming from East to Northeast will prevail with Slight to Moderate seas (0.6 to 2.5 meters).


Thursday, August 24, 2023

COMELEC calls on Filipinos to make 2023 BSK elections peaceful, meaningful

By Jennifer P. Gaitano

As the nation prepares for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (BSK) Elections set on October 30, 2023, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) called on all the eligible, registered voters to actively participate and help maintain peace and order, making this year’s elections successful and meaningful.

The COMELEC has emphasized that they are continuously coordinating with the different law enforcement agencies such as the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines, among others with the aim to achieve common goals in ensuring that lawless elements could not create chaos and failure of election in the barangays.

These elections provide local communities with a voice in shaping their own destinies and ensure that the needs of the people are met. By electing competent and committed leaders, citizens can strengthen their communities and build a more vibrant democracy.

According to Atty. Francisco Pobe, regional election director of COMELEC Caraga, that generally, the barangay election is manual. 

“The logic there is that there is nothing to be transmitted, nothing to be consolidated. Once the canvassing is done at the barangay level, automatically, proclamation shall be made. Except for multi-precincts barangay that have a special board of canvassers that proclamation of winning candidates will be made only within the barangay. What will happen is more on reportorial,” he explained.

Atty. Pobe added that the COMELEC has been wanting to make the elections automated but with the necessary budget.  “We are also exploring the possibility of mall voting. Caraga region was not included among the identified areas; only those highly-urbanized areas in Metro Manila, Davao, Cebu, for us to see how it is effective and its impact in the society. The other one that we are looking into is the conduct of early voting from 5:00 in the morning to 5:00 in the afternoon. This is for the elderly, persons with disabilities, and other vulnerable sectors,” he said.

“To intensify our campaign against vote-buying, the COMELEC has initiated the ‘kontra-bigay’ from the municipality level up to the national level. In this campaign, we are joined by the PNP, AFP, Department of Justice, Public Attorneys Office, and build up cases against violators. Hopefully, if we can’t stop it; somehow we will be able to minimize it,” reiterated Atty. Pobe. 

As to peace and security measures, the PNP and AFP that are also active members of the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC), elaborated how their respective agencies take charge of the necessary preparations and monitoring of the peace efforts leading towards the success of the Barangay and SK Elections.

Lieutenant Colonel Jenny De Mesa, commanding officer of the 4th Civil-Military Operations (CMO) Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army,  bared that they are implementing two modes of action – combat mode and the election mode. 

“For the combat mode, this is a sort of suppression on the threat groups and lawless elements that are potential to create chaos. And for the election mode, this includes the conduct of visibility patrol, joint checkpoints with the PNP. The creation also of the Oplan Halalan is part of our way ahead that will serve as the operational blueprint within the election period this year. Here, protocols are clearly indicated, as well as appropriate actions to be executed,” underscored De Mesa.

She added that a Special Task Group SAFE will be activated and manned by the 4ID skilled and equipped personnel that know how to handle election-related incidents.

“To all the youth, please don’t sell your votes because if you do, you sell your future. So, vote wisely,” stressed De Mesa as she reminded the youth to take active part and be responsible in casting their votes.

On the other hand, Police Brigadier General Kirby John Kraft of PNP Caraga, clarified that starting August 1 which signaled the start of the Barangay and SK Elections period, the PNP has been alerted and conducted joint police and AFP checkpoints.

“Vote wisely. Isa lang ang ibig sabihin nito, dapat iboto po natin kung sino ‘yung mga karapat-dapat na may malasakit at tunay na maglilingkod sa ating barangay at sa ating Sangguniang Kabataan. So, ito na po ‘yung pagkakataon na mailoklok po natin ‘yung mga tamang mamumuno sa atin. Kung may mag-aabot ng pera sa atin, huwag po nating ibenta ang ating Karapatan,” said Kraft.

Police Colonel James Goforth, regional operations division chief of the Police Regional 13 also highlighted that the PRO-13 has recorded some 1,311 barangays and will be manning some 1,350 polling centers which are in clusters. 

“From the 1,311 barangays, more than 1,100 barangays are considered as areas of no concern. So, we mean to say that these barangays are cleared, which belongs to the green category. In the yellow category, we have nine but then again these figures can change anytime depending upon the current situation because this is very volatile,” Goforth disclosed.

Orange category as explained by PCol. Goforth, means there is an area of immediate concern. “This is because of the presence of the communist terrorist groups. It does not necessarily mean that they are in the area, but there is presence of CTG activities. The good news is, we have no areas of grave concern or the red areas. Hopefully, this will not change, yet we also ensure that the PNP under the leadership of regional director PBGen. Kirby John Kraft, will man the polling centers and secure the voters and candidates,” he said.

“Suffrage is very sacred. We have the right to protect this, and we should not engage into vote-buying. Kung ano ang pinagbabawal ng batas ay huwag po nating gagawin para hindi po tayo maka-violate ng COMELEC rules,” added Goforth.

Meanwhile, the COMELEC also announced that the election period is from August 28 to November 29, 2023. The Filing of Certificate of Candidacy is from August 28 to September 2, 2023; Campaign period is on October 19-28, 2023; Election day is on October 30, 2023. Last day to file Statements of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE) will be on November 29, 2023. (JPG, PIA-Caraga)