CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/25 October) — Despite delays in the delivery of election paraphernalia to the 797 clustered precincts of the city, start of voting was already 100 percent as of 12 noon today.
Last to accept votes were the polling centers at the City Central Elementary School which houses the precincts of poblacion barangays 1-30 and West Elementary School in Barangay Carmen.
City Election Officer Palmer Palamine said the delay was caused by the late arrival of the official ballots from Manila.
According to Supt. Emmanuel Hebron, Deputy Director for Operations of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, the official ballots arrived at the City Treasurer’s Office at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Palamine said that Commission on Elections (Comelec) personnel then segregated the official ballots for distribution to the 797 clustered precincts.
The first batch of the election paraphernalia left the City Hall compound at 4:30 a.m. bound for the Lumbia district which covers hinterland polling centers in Bayanga, Mambuaya, Dansolihon, Tigpapoloan and Besigan.
The last convoy of vehicles bearing the election paraphernalia left City Hall at 8:40 a.m. bound for City Central Elementary School in the poblacion and West Central Elementary School in Carmen.
“Wala pa gyuy pahulay ang mga personnel sa Comelec and volunteers (the personnel and volunteers of Comelec haven’t taken a rest) since they have to hastily segregate for distribution to the precincts the election paraphernalia, but by 12 noon, we have confirmed that voting started in 100 percent of the precincts,” Palamine said.
At 5 o’clock in the afternoon, most polling precincts had closed and started counting. But hose in the vicinity of the polling precincts as of 5 pm were still allowed to vote.
Comelec en banc resolution 9078 extended the voting time to 5 in the afternoon for precincts who failed to start at 7 a.m. as required by law.
Palamine said that although the voting and counting is manual, they’re confident they would be able to finish within the day the counting at the precinct level.
Compared to the automated May 10 elections, the number of clustered precincts was increased from 361 to 797. The number of voters per cluster has also been reduced to a maximum of 400 compared to the maximum of 1,000 in the May polls.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said that the conduct of today’s elections was “relatively peaceful.”
Cagayan de Oro police director Senior Supt. Benedicto Lopez said that aside from the delays in the delivery of election paraphernalia, election day was “generally without a major incident.”
He said that aside from the liquor ban violators “wala namang major na nangyari (no major incidents occurred) aside from the usual tensions between and among candidates.”
Police recorded 14 liquor ban violators and 11 gun ban violators.
Dolette Cuevas-Banzon, Assistant Regional Elections Director for Northern Mindanao said that the bills filed in Congress for the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections caused the delay in the printing of ballots.
“At least 100 percent na ang report sa mga provinces nga na-receive na nila ang mga election paraphernalia ug nga nakasugod na usab sila bisan pa man nga daghan usab ang wala gyud makasugod sa insakto nga oras (At least, the provinces have reported that they have received 100 percent the election paraphernalia and they have started [the voting process] even if many of them were unable to start at the right time),” Cuevas-Banzon said.
She, however, did not indicate if 100 percent of the polling precincts in the region had started voting.
As per the Comelec resolution extending the voting period, a failure of election may be declared if voting had not started by 12 noon Monday. Special elections in this case shall be held on Oct. 26, 2010.
Almost 2,000 barangays nationwide already declared a failure of election according to the monitoring of the Task Force HOPE of the Philippine National Police (PNP) due to the delayed arrival of election paraphernalia.
Most of the areas that declared a failure of election were in Masbate, Isabela, Cagayan, Capiz, Pangasinan, Nueva Vizcaya, Tarlac, Albay and Aklan in Luzon. (BenCyrus Ellorin/MindaNews)