Day 1 of certificates of candidacy filing yields high turnout
Candidates for the barangay elections line up to file their certificates of candidacy at the Comelec office in Aroceros, Manila yesterday.
Krizjohn Rosales
Day 1 of certificates of candidacy filing yields high turnout
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 15, 2018 - 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — The first day of the filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan polls is off to a good start, with more bets having listed beyond expectation, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday.

“Considering that it is just the first day, surprisingly more than what we expected have come to file their COCs,” noted Comelec spokesman James Jimenez in an interview.

According to Jimenez, they were not expecting a high turn out yesterday because of the practice of candidates in previous polls to file their COCs on the last day.

The gun ban was also enforced yesterday with the start of the election period nationwide that will run until May 21. 

While reports from the field are still incomplete, Jimenez claimed they got information that the filing process was orderly.

The practice of filing COCs on the last day of listing, however, was changed when the Supreme Court decriminalized premature campaigning in its ruling on the disqualification case against Mayor Rosalina Penera of San Monica, Surigao del Norte during the 2007 mid-term elections.

Penera held a motorcade after filing her candidacy on March 29, 2007 while official campaign period for local bets began only the following day.

Jimenez added because of the ruling, holding candidates for electioneering is technically impossible now.

“But of course we don’t encourage candidates to engage in premature campaigning. They should adhere to our schedule that the campaign period starts on May 4 and ends on May 12,” he said.

Preliminary data also indicate that there have been more bets for barangay positions who filed their COCs than SK candidates.

A significant number of candidates are senior citizens and that close to half of the bets are women. 

Jimenez added as of press time, there were no reports of persons with disability filing COCs. 

“Over-all, it can be safely said that the first day of the filing of COCs has gone off without a hitch and the Comelec is confident that this trend will continue until the last day of filing on April 20,” he maintained.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) reported yesterday there were no violent incidents during the first day of the filing of COCs for the barangay and SK elections.
Incoming PNP chief and National Capital Region Police Office head Director Oscar Albayalde said security checkpoints were put in place,
especially in Metro Manila, to prevent violent incidents which might arise during the campaign season and elections for barangay and SK positions. Albayalde said they are keeping a close watch on private armed groups during the election period.

The PNP said there are at least 78 active private armed groups with around 2,000 members and 1,600 assorted firearms nationwide.

PNP spokesman Chief Supt. John Bulalacao said there were no untoward incidents during the first day of the gun ban.

“The first day of the election period was generally peaceful,” he said.

The PNP is monitoring at least 5,744 barangays for possible poll-related violence as part of election security measures.

Illegal drugs

 Jimenez also underscored the need for voters to be discerning about the candidates, especially those engaged in illegal drugs. 

“Voters should stay away from anything that might be harmful to their barangay. Let’s keep our community drug-free and that includes the leadership,” he said.

On the other hand, he urged aspirants for the barangay and SK posts to avoid running if they are involved in illegal drugs.  

He reiterated that being a barangay and SK official is rendering public service.

“If you are involved in drugs, get yourself sorted out first before trying to sort out the barangay. In the first place, it is illegal and not good for your health,” he added.

Jimenez said what they are closely monitoring now is compliance with the standards of Comelec when it comes to the checkpoints and police personnel manning them. 

In Metro Manila, the checkpoints were set up in well-lit areas, with the names of the officers in charge printed clearly on the sign boards.

Jimenez added that as a policy, motorists could not be required to get out of their vehicles and that policemen could only do “visual inspection” for firearms, unless the owners voluntarily open their vehicles.   

The Armed Forces of the Philippines-Joint Task Force NCR (National Capital Region) has not monitored any threat to the coming barangay and SK elections in the entire metropolis, a senior military official said yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Alan Arrojado, Joint Task Force-NCR (JTF-NCR) commander, said his unit is closely conducting security validations and threat assessment operations in areas with history of poll violence.

The Comelec has deputized the AFP-JTF-NCR, with the Philippine National Police (PNP) as the lead agency, to ensure that the May 14 Barangay and SK polls would be peaceful.

Arrojado said his unit is closely coordinating with the PNP in all its pre-election activities and operations, to include joint patrol and the conduct of checkpoints in key areas of the metropolis.

Arrojado said his unit will provide the Comelec and the PNP with the necessary manpower to ensure the forthcoming polls would be smooth and free and peaceful.

Quezon City Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte proposed that SK officials should undergo a crash course on government financial systems to improve their management skills. 

Belmonte said enhancing the fiscal management capabilities of SK officials would prevent intervention from other officials who may dictate on them what to do with their funds.

The vice mayor said she will organize a pre-election seminar for SK candidates in Quezon City to help them understand the value of serving in the government. 

“They should have trainings on proper accounting and financial management and administration, including pertinent laws,” said the vice mayor. 

Belmonte also stressed the importance of inculcating the value of accountability and transparency in the minds of the young leaders. – Jaime Laude, Janvic Mateo, Emmanuel Tupas, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Ric Sapnu, Eva Visperas

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