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Comelec, PNP in Central Visayas fully ready for elections

Uniformed personnel from the Philippine National Police 7, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and Philippine Coast Guard 7 at at the SRP Tent City, Citi de Mare in Cebu City during the BSKE Election Simultaneous Send-off Ceremony held on October 23, 2023. (Photo from Police Regional Office 7 FB page)

CEBU CITY, Cebu (PIA) -- The Police Regional Office 7 (PRO-7) and the Commission on Election (COMELEC) in Central Visayas are all set for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Election on October 30. 

“We are 90% prepared in terms of accountable forms and on augmentation of uniformed personnels,” said COMELEC-7 Administrative Officer Ivan Jason Delos Santos during the recent Kapihan sa PIA interview. 

The ten-day campaign period started on October 19 and will end on October 28. 

Delos Santos said that teachers who will serve members of the electoral board have already been briefed by Atty. Ferdinand Gujilde, COMELEC-7 regional election attorney. 

In Region 7, there are 2,956 voting centers, of which 1,202 are in Cebu, 1,074 in Bohol, 548 in Negros Oriental, and 132 in Siqiujor.

Security coverage

“Since the election is intertwined with the (observation of) Undas, you can expect security coverage from PRO-7,” assured Police Lt. Col. Gerard Ace Pelare in the same Kapihan sa PIA interview. 

PRO-7 deployed 12,000 uniformed personnel on October 23, 2023, at SRP World Tent City,  Citi de Mare in Cebu City with personnel from the Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, and the Philippine Coast Guard.

“There will be uniformed personnel in places of convergence like malls, beaches, and especially the cemeteries,” Pelare added.

Tarpaulin posters hanging from electric wires being removed as part of Comelec's "Oplan Baklas" on October 20, 2023. (Photo from COMELEC FB Page)
Oplan Baklas

COMELEC earlier set guidelines on the sizes of the campaign materials, including radio and TV airtime. 

Poster size is limited to 2x3 feet, while streamers should only measure 3x8 feet.

Airtime for broadcast advertisements is limited to 60 minutes for TV and 90 minutes for radio.

COMELEC-7 has also started removing  illegal campaign materials under their "Oplan Baklas" campaign from October 20, 2023 until October 27, 2023. 

“This is to ensure that campaign materials are posted in designated areas provided by the city or municipality election officers," Delos Santos added.

“Giving food and drinks is also strictly prohibited, including ballers and caps,” he added. 

Delos Santos shared that food and giveaways are discouraged to prevent the candidates from being questioned on their incurred expenses, which will be reflected on their Statement of Contribution and Expenditures (SOCE).

Candidates are required to submit their SOCE on November 29, or 30 days from the election day.

COMELEC-7 has also been closely monitoring e-wallet platforms for huge cash transactions and small note exchanges.

Areas of convergence and concern

Partner agencies like the Bureau of Fire Protection, Department of Health, and the Office of the Civil Defense will also be present in areas of convergence to assist persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and pregnant women.

Malls like Robinsons Galleria Cebu and SM City Consolacion have also opened their doors for mall voting this year with their specific barangay assignments.

“This is a transition for COMELEC, especially for senior citizens, which we hope could also happen in the following years,” Delos Santos said.

In ensuring a safe and secure election, PRO-7 will also deploy police personnel in areas with intense political rivalry, or “election areas of concern.”

These areas are given focus for their recorded election incidence in past elections. 

“We are ready to respond to these concerns, and the public is assured that we already have contingency plans for these incidents,” Pelare reassured.

Pelare also urged voters, especially in Negros Oriental, which has been placed under COMELEC control, to exercise their right to vote, especially after the March 4 Pamplona Massacre.

“Of course, you cannot ignore the March 4 incident, and we are taking that into consideration," explained Pelare.

On March 4, 2023, former Negros Oriental Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others were killed by armed men in his own home inPamplona town. 

Pelare said they have set up COMELEC checkpoints in Negros Oriental. 

“Although we have created precautionary measures and deployment, there may be instances wherein you can’t see any police force in sight. I am therefore asking for everyone’s cooperation since this is a joint undertaking between the government and the community and to bring your concern to the proper forum," he added.

“Let’s make this election a very peaceful undertaking, and please exercise your right to suffrage because a single vote can definitely bring change," said Delos Santos. (MYP/PIA7 Cebu)

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Myrtle Pasigan

Information Officer

Region 7

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