Comelec not discounting violence, vote-buying on May 14

Ruth Abbey Gita

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) is keeping an eye on the potential "violence" and "vote-buying" during the conduct of the village and youth council elections on May 14, its spokesperson said Tuesday, April 17.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they were not discounting the possibility of a scuffle and candidates exerting "undue influence" on voters, especially since the twin elections will be done through manual voting.

"If you're going to look for things to really watch out for, it's really the violence that we're concerned about," he said in a television interview.

"We [also] watch out for, well, vote-buying, obviously, for people who [will attempt to influence this year's elections]. What we see in the precints is people whispering to watchers or people whispering through windows. So we're looking out for that -- undue influence," Jimenez added.

The election period for the village and youth council polls kicked off on April 14.

Filipinos who wish to run for local posts started filing their respective certificates of candidacy (COC) on the first day of filing, April 14. The last day of filing of COCs will be on on April 20, Friday.

The campaign period for qualified qualified candidates for the local elections will be from May 4 to 12.

A nationwide gun ban also took effect on April 14 and will end on May 21.

Amid the upcoming twin polls, Jimenez said the Comelec has yet to get from the Philippine National Police the roster of election hotspots in the country.

But he stressed that there were "areas of concern that have been looked out from a long time ago."

Jimenez reminded the aspirants that bringing propaganda materials, such as sample ballots, is prohibited during the conduct of elections.

He also cautioned the electorate that taking photos of filled-up ballots was not allowed.

He said the comelec would also police areas where candidates might attempt to pressure teachers who will serve in the coming village and youth council elections, as well as to entice those who will cast their votes.

"In some cases, you see folded pieces of paper money flying to the air because they are flicked at people who are sitting, writing down in their ballots. So we're looking at that," Jimenez said.

"The second thing we're looking at is influence on the teachers during the counting. That's really the most bothersome here because essentially, some teachears might be subjected to pressure to read a certain way or to tally a certain way. That's what we're looking at now," he added. (SunStar Philippines)