Comelec ready for early campaigning, violence

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is preparing to address the usual poll-related problems in the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections this October.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday said among these problems are political dynasties and premature campaigning.

“We will be on guard against the same problems but on a smaller scale,” Brillantes said.

He said barangay and SK candidates are expected to start campaigning in the coming weeks, long before the election period.

“We can already expect those wanting to be barangay captains to start moving and posturing,” he said.

However, Brillantes admitted that the Comelec is powerless to prevent candidates from engaging in premature campaigning until after they have officially filed their certificates of candidacy (COCs).

The filing of COCs for the barangay and SK elections will be from Oct. 15 to 17 while the campaign period will be from Oct. 18 to 26.

Brillantes said many candidates for the barangay polls urge their children to run as youth executives in the absence of a law against political dynasties.

“We have long been against it. But we cannot do anything about it since Congress is in charge of making laws,” he said.

The only option of the poll body is to reiterate its call for voters to reject political dynasties, Brillantes said.

Barangay chairman killed

A barangay chairman in Pampanga and two of his companions were shot dead by motorcycle-riding suspects in Barangay Bundagol in Mabalacat on Saturday evening.

Provincial police director Senior Superintendent Oscar Albayalde identified the victims as Rodrigo Lopez, chairman of barangay Mesalipit in Bacolor town, Pedro Sambo and Merlito Naguit.

Two unidentified suspects on a motorcycle immediately fled after shooting them.

The victims were all residents of Madadap, a resettlement area for those displaced by Mt. Pinatubo’s eruption in the 1990s.

Albayalde said the three were declared dead on arrival at a nearby hospital.

“Checkpoints are now in place for possible apprehension of suspects. Recovered from the crime scene were empty shells of caliber .45,” Albayalde said.

This developed as Pampanga Vice Gov. Dennis Pineda announced a P200,000 reward for anyone with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect in the murder of the secretary of the mayor of Masantol town last month.

Albayalde identified the suspect as Andres Melo Jr., alias Yoyong Melo of Barangay Consuelo in neighboring Macabebe town.

He said Melo also has a pending warrant of arrest for murder issued way back in November 2003.

Melo, who was riding a motorcycle driven by another still unidentified suspect, allegedly shot Lorenzo Viray, a local Liberal Party member and secretary of Masantol Mayor Dan Guinto at around 9 p.m. last July 29 while he was on his way home.

The suspect was identified by witnesses from the police’s rogue gallery.  -With Ding Cervantes

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