By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Occidental assured residents that they would not be imposing a province-wide curfew ahead of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) on Monday, October 30.
This came after a curfew was imposed in neighboring Negros Oriental, which will start on Saturday, October 28 in relation to the BSKE.
Atty. Ian Lee Ananoria, Comelec-NegOcc elections supervisor, said there will be no curfew in Negros Occidental, but a liquor ban will be implemented on Sunday, October 29, a day before the polls.
Negros Oriental has been placed under Comelec control due to the province’s history of intense and deadly political rivalries.
The curfew in Negros Oriental would take effect from 10:00 p.m. on Saturday to 4:00 a.m. on Sunday; and from 10:00 p.m. on Sunday to 4:00 a.m. on election day.
Meanwhile, Ananoria said the three villages in Negros Occidental classified under the “red” category, or election areas of grave concern, have not been placed under Comelec control.
However, military and police personnel have tightened their monitoring in the said villages to prevent those planning to disrupt the local polls, and to maintain peace and order in the villages.
Ananoria added that they have found some minor issues prior to the conduct of the polls, including a shortage of ballots, following the arrival of accountable forms and election paraphernalia.
He said, in cases where there is a shortage of ballots, other polling precincts may lend their extra ballots.
Contingency plans have already been set for problems encountered during the election day.
The provincial election supervisor further explained that a 100 percent voter turnout is often unattainable.
He also reminded voters to familiarize themselves with their designated polling venues using a precinct finder available online, before the election day to make their voting process more convenient.
Meanwhile, Ananoria warned BSKE candidates against vote buying, following several arrests related to illegal activity in some parts of the country.
Ananoria said vote buying is an election-related offense, and appropriate criminal charges will be filed.
He added that Comelec offices in Negros Occidental will set up a “Kontra Bigay” complaint desk, where concerned citizens could submit complaints against vote buying.
Gun ban violators
Police Major Rhojn Darrell Nigos, Negros Occidental Police Provincial Office spokesperson, said 30 apprehensions in relation to the gun ban have been made since August, the start of the election period.
Negros Occidental has the highest number of Comelec gun ban violators in Western Visayas.
It is followed by Iloilo province with 19 violators, the cities of Iloilo and Bacolod with 16 each, Aklan with 11, Capiz with nine, Guimaras with four, and Antique with two.
The Police Regional Office in Western Visayas’ Mobile Force Battalion has also recorded three gun ban-related arrests, making the grand total at 110.
Of the number, 104 were civilians, three were security guards, two jail officers, and one police personnel.
A total of 78 firearms and 46 bladed weapons were recovered.
Nigos said poll-related police operations will continue, expecting that more gun ban violators would be arrested./DGB, WDJ