MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided to suspend the barangay polls in Zamboanga City owing to the armed conflict between government security forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said yesterday.
“Our consensus is to postpone the election in the entire city. We cannot give the details yet because we still have to discuss this in an executive session,” Brillantes told journalists.
Last week, the Comelec sent Commissioner Christian Robert Lim to Zamboanga City to assess the situation and determine the possibility of pushing through with the barangay polls.
Brillantes said there was a “general consensus” among the officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Education (DepEd) and local government units to shelve the elections in the city.
“There’s no place to hold the elections and it’s still chaotic there. We still do not know where we would store our election paraphernalia. These are some of the problems there,” he said.
Reports reaching the Comelec earlier showed that six villages – Santa Catalina, Santa Barbara, Talon-Talon, Rio Hondo, Mampang and Mariqui – were heavily affected by the gunfights. These villages have around 45,000 voters.
Some public schools used as voting centers during elections were reportedly burned by the MNLF, while most residents were displaced from their homes.
Brillantes said the hostilities in the city had also affected their preparation for the elections in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, as these serve as staging areas for poll equipment and paraphernalia. – With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Ding Cervantes