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COMELEC, PNP on alert for 2023 BSKE, Taal volcano activity

CALAMBA CITY, Laguna (PIA) -- Authorities in the Calabarzon region are keeping a close watch on the conduct of the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) and the continuing activities of Taal Volcano as election day draws near.

Police Major Gerry Malipol said more than 9,000 personnel from the Philippine National Police Regional Office IV-A are ready to be deployed along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Regional Maritime Unit to ensure safe and fair elections.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is also on alert on the activities of Taal Volcano, which may affect the conduct of elections in surrounding areas.

Lawyer Gretchen Dolarte, Batangas provincial election officer, said the poll body is prepared to declare a 'failure of election' if incidents such as fire, flood, earthquakes, or similar events occur on election day.

"Our top priority is the preservation of life, so our election board is required to evacuate polling places if necessary. However, they must report the situation to our election officers and secure all equipment and supplies. They must also inform the party representatives, citizen arms, and watchers about any transfer or suspension of voting," she said.

In past barangay elections, the PNP recorded a minimal number of election-related incidents involving candidates and their supporters. Incidents included two cases in 2010, three in 2013, and two in 2018.

"Despite these incidents, it is safe to assess that the BSKE in the region were generally peaceful. Nevertheless, we continue to monitor the presence of potential private armed groups that may be involved in activities related to the election period," Malipol said.

Under the Omnibus Election Code, an election may be postponed due to violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other situations that would undermine the conduct of a free, orderly, and honest election.

Calabarzon comprising Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon has 15,660,770 registered voters for the October 2023 polls, making it the most vote-rich region in the country. (PB)

About the Author

Christopher Hedreyda

Region 4A

Provincial Information Center Manager, PIA Laguna

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