Bukidnon all set for May elections—Comelec, PNP

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and government security forces assured that Bukidnon is ready for the May 10 elections.

“We are ready,” said Atty. Lordino Salvaña, Comelec provincial office supervisor.

Salvaña said the Comelec has conducted information activities among voters and has trained in basic information technology (IT) all election officers and the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI).

Winifred Salilo, Comelec-Malaybalay election officer, said that voters’ education sessions have reached the barangay levels in the city, citing the voting procedures and the proper handling of the ballots. Distribution of Voter Information Sheets (VIS), or the official sample ballots, is still going on.

According to Provincial Election Assistant Anie Yabes, 23 personnel and support staff of the BEI were selected from the two cities and 20 municipalities of Bukidnon to undergo the two-day training seminar on the technology used in the country’s first national automated elections. The seminar was held at the De Luxe Hotel, Cagayan de Oro City  on April 7-8

She said the personnel would be assigned to assist the municipal board of canvassers.

An earlier seminar for members of the BEI was held on March 9-10 also in the same venue. The participants were endorsed by district supervisors of Valencia and Malaybalay, administrative officer Adolfo Torres of Department of Education (DepEd)-Bukidnon said.  The BEI trainees were selected due to their IT background.

Three teachers and three support staff would be assigned in each of the 1,029 clustered precincts in Bukidnon to assist 730,867 registered voters in the province.

While there were no hotspot areas in the province, Salilo said that the Comelec has listed some areas of concern in the city due to previous rebel-sightings and armed encounters between the government military and rebels. These are the barangays of Zamboangita, St. Peter, Busdi, Kulaman, Caburacanan, Manalog and Kibalabag.

Senior Supt Nerio Bermudo, chief of the provincial police office, said these areas were already cleared by the military. “In fact, the areas near Upper Pulangi were cleared (of rebels) by the 403rd IB,” he added. He said that the only area of concern in the province is Valencia City due to “intense political rivalry between the former and incumbent mayors”.

“We have anticipated election violence but we have already ironed out (the security measures) with the help of the AFP and some CAFGU units”, he added.

Supt. Erwin Bayani Meneses, Malaybalay City police chief, said that there were no indications that violence would erupt in the city and said that he already directed all personnel to “stand guard in 110 precincts of the city once the PCOS machines are delivered three days before the election”.  The 1,029 PCOS machines, marking pens and official ballots are scheduled to be delivered on or before May 7.

Juancho Chiong, branch manager of Bukidnon II Electric Cooperative, Inc (Buseco) also said that his office would ensure a steady supply of electricity during the elections, and added that this was the directive he received in a memorandum from the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

He clarified though that the assurance would cover only all the areas where the voting centers are located and “not the entire province”.

“Of course, there is still a critical energy deficiency and we still have to continue the rotating brown-out schedule,” Chiong added.

According to Salvaña, the rotating brownouts will not pose problems “because the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines have a 16-hour backup battery”. He said  “everything from data transmission to canvassing will be electronic and will only consume a few hours”.

Beyond that, Chiong assured that Buseco would serve the energy requirements until the canvassing and proclamation.  (April Rose Torion/MindaNews)