The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not letting its guard down despite the conduct of the actual voting of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) in Negros Oriental yesterday was generally peaceful.
Lawyer Eliseo Labaria, acting provincial election supervisor of Negros Oriental, said placing the entire province of Negros Oriental under Comelec control has greatly helped defuse tension and potential violence as previously anticipated.
He, however, said that while there were no violent election-related incidents reported, tension could still erupt during the canvassing and even until the proclamation of winning candidates.
He urged the police and the military to stay vigilant during the canvassing and until all winning candidates are proclaimed.
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Comelec regional election director for Central Visayas, in a separate statement, was hopeful that Negros Oriental would maintain its peace and order until after the proclamation.
“Let’s pray that the province will be safe until after the proclamation,” Castillano said.
The Comelec en banc decided to place the province under its control to avert violence amid a province still reeling from what was perceived to be a politically-motivated assassination of Governor Roel Degamo last March 4.
As of yesterday, 93.26 percent or 512 of the total 549 voting centers in Negros Oriental have terminated the voting and started the canvassing, a report from the Provincial Election Monitoring Action Center of the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office showed.
The Comelec provincial office reported 100-percent success in all voting centers, which started at 7:00 a.m. with all ballots and election paraphernalia accounted for.
Minor incidents reported during the day included brief power interruptions in Siaton and Tayasan towns, but electric cooperatives responded immediately; one teacher fainted in Tanjay City and was replaced by another; and alleged vote-buying at polling centers and elsewhere.
Some voters were also allegedly disenfranchised and were unable to vote, but Labaria said these have yet to be confirmed.
Also, a Quick Response Team was deployed to Siaton’s Barangay Bonbonon over the weekend following reports of harassment, but the tension had already fizzled out.
Police and military personnel also went to the rescue of some voters who allegedly were prevented from voting but were able to cast their votes later when escorted to the precincts.
Thousands of security forces from other parts of the Visayas, including police, military, Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fire protection personnel, as well as land, air, and sea assets, were deployed to the province to secure the BSKE. (PNA)