News and UpdatesIn the News10 pm curfew declared for Oct. 28, 29

10 pm curfew declared for Oct. 28, 29

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The newly-created Special Task Force-Negros Oriental passed a Resolution on Wednesday imposing a Province-wide curfew two days before the Oct. 30 Barangay & Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to avert violence, and prevent vote-buying.

Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, the Commission on Elections regional election director for Central Visayas, said the curfew  started to take effect at 10 pm of Saturday, Oct. 28 until 4 am of Sunday, Oct. 29; and again from 10 pm on Sunday until 4 am of Monday, Oct. 30 which is election day.

Castillano said they decided not to impose a curfew earlier than Oct. 28 to give candidates more time to campaign.

“The curfew is to prevent vote-buying, threats, and intimidation of force against votes and candidates; but we are not imposing it earlier as we do not want to impede the candidates’ rights to campaign,” he said.

The curfew will affect all ages but with certain exemptions, Castillano said.

Exempted from the curfew are those who work at call centers, law enforcers, and other authorities and individuals whose services are required at any given time, he said.

These individuals will have to present proof that they normally work during the curfew hours, as security forces will be on hand for verification, he added.

Curfew violators will be detained, and released at 5 am the following day.

Castillano, who heads the Regional Joint Security Control Center in Central Visayas, attended the provincial JSCC meeting at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office on Wednesday to discuss the operational plan and guidelines on the Comelec-controlled status of the Province.

The Regional JSCC converted itself into the Special Task Force-Negros Oriental, and placed its provincial counterpart  headed by lawyer Eliseo Labaria, acting provincial election officer, in charge of operations.

Officials of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Philippine Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Fire Protection, as well as election officers, had raised their concerns, mostly on security, for the coming BSKE.

Castillano said there were minor adjustments made as the security contingency plan had been approved earlier.

Negros Oriental was placed under Comelec control in August to ensure the conduct of safe, peaceful, and orderly elections, and prevent more violence after the March 4 assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo.

Meanwhile, the Comelec assured the public they will deliver the ballots and other election paraphernalia to more than 100 critical areas in the Province earlier than the usual schedule.

Labaria  said that based on the recommendations of the election officers in the recent coordinating conference with the Comelec and security forces, more than 100 areas have been identified for the early delivery.

“We need to give the teachers serving in the electoral boards enough time to rest so they can start on time on election day, as we do not want to compromise the process,” Labaria said.

Normally, teachers performing election duties are the ones who deliver the official ballots, ballot boxes, and other election paraphernalia to the voting centers on election day.

The Comelec official explained that they need to deliver the ballots, ballot boxes, and other paraphernalia since these areas are “very far” and inaccessible, not to mention the security concerns.

“Some of these areas have been identified as very far and inaccessible that one has to walk at least 10 kilometers, while other areas have security concerns, like the presence of the Communist insurgents,” he said.

The ballots, ballot boxes, and poll material are deposited with the different treasurers in the towns and cities until election day, and only the teachers assigned can withdraw them, Labaria explained.

The earliest delivery will be made to two areas farthest from the Provincial Capitol: Sitio Bucao in barangay Mandu-ao, and sitio Gintangaan in barangay Tayawan, both in Bayawan City.

Deliveries will also be done early in over 100 areas across the Province, including the world’s dive destination of Apo Island, which is part of the town of Dauin.

The Coast Guard will be assisting the police and military in the delivery of these items, and securing the safety of the teachers in barangay Apo.

Labaria did not disclose the exact number of military and police personnel involved but assured that “tight security is in place” to protect the ballots and the teachers serving during the elections.

He said he was also optimistic that no untoward incident would happen during the delivery, especially with more than 3,000 combined security forces deployed in Negros Oriental.

Negros Oriental has been placed under Comelec control for the BSKE to avert violence following the March 4 assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo and nine others.

Labaria also urged the public to report to the poll body any form of vote-buying.

He said his office has so far received complaints of an activity held in a barangay in Dumaguete where individuals received P2,000 each for a purported ayuda.

He said the details were not yet clear as to who was behind the supposed distribution.

However, some photos have been forwarded to the Comelec provincial office.

Labaria encouraged the senders of evidences to file a complaint through email to the Comelec Central Office under its Oplan Kontra-Bigay program as they cannot initiate an investigation here when they do not have personal knowledge or evidence of the activities being complained about. (Judy F. Partlow/PNA)

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Photo Caption: Not minding the giant billboards announcing some of the candidates for the Oct. 30 Barangay & SK Elections, this woman prefers to use the Comelec poster area in barangay Piapi in Dumaguete City as a bus stop. (Photo by Alex Pal)

 

 

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