Divided on deferment; Sectors clash over plan to postpone brgy, SK polls in NegOr 

Posted by watchmen
June 28, 2023
Posted in HEADLINE

Representatives of different sectors in Negros Oriental took different sides over the proposed postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections in the province in October.

During the first day of the public hearing in Dumaguete City on Tuesday, June 27, to help the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc decide whether to postpone the local polls to a later date as allowed by the law, local government units, civil service organizations, business, church, youth, and other sectors in the province aired their sentiments on the proposal.

Army General Andres Centino, chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Police General Benjamin Acorda, Jr. of the Philippine National Police (PNP), both present during the activities, gave respective briefings on the peace and order and security in the province, stating a “generally peaceful” environment would not warrant the postponement.

In his briefing, Negros Oriental acting police provincial director, Colonel Alex Recinto, said statistics showed a reduction in most crimes this year.

Meanwhile, Colonel Joey Escanillas, the Philippine Army’s 302nd Brigade commander, said the law enforcement agencies’ campaign against the insurgency “somehow diminished the movement.”

However, they said they are always ready to deploy additional forces if necessary and have contingency plans in place, regardless of the date of the local polls.

The Negros Oriental Sangguniang Panlalawigan also pushed for the conduct of the election as scheduled on October 30, as they see no reasons to delay it.

First District Representative Jocelyn Limkaichong and some city councilors in Dumaguete favored the holding of the polls as scheduled.

They shared common reasons, which include a perceived peaceful atmosphere, and a “booming” economy and tourism industry in the province.

On the other hand, the sectors who favored the deferment of the October 30 elections were the Diocese of Dumaguete and the Diocesan Electoral Board/Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting/National Movement for Free Elections.

Their position papers were read at the coordinating conference at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office.

In a statement, Edward Du, president of the Negros Oriental Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said they have to listen to the security briefings first before making their stand.

The group said they will back the poll’s original schedule after the police and military gave reassurances for a safe, peaceful and orderly elections. 

Earlier this week, nine Negros Oriental mayors expressed support for the poll deferment.

They cited primary reasons for the postponement, such as security concerns, threats, possible violence, and anticipated criminal activities.

Comelec chair George Erwin Garcia said he was satisfied with the turnout of the coordinating conference as it was rare to have the chiefs of AFP and PNP come together in the activity.

However, Garcia said it will not be an easy task to conduct the upcoming elections in the province, but he reassured the constituents in Negros Oriental that they will do their best to ensure the elections will be smooth. 

“We have shown not just to the people of Negros Oriental but the entire Filipino people that the Comelec will not hesitate to use the forces of the government just to ensure an honest and clean elections,” he said.

The poll body chair also warned those who may disrupt the elections as the security forces are ready to respond anytime.

He asked the police and military for their reassurance and full support for the conduct of the polls.

The Comelec en banc will gather all reports from the public hearings and will discuss the proposed deferment’s pros and cons.

Their decision will be released in August or September, Garcia said. 

The public consultations on the deferment will be conducted until Thursday, June 29./ With reports from PNA / WDJ

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