71 voters from Region 12 cast ballots early in absentee voting program

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 1 May) – A total of 71 teachers, policemen, soldiers and media workers in this city and nearby provinces of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat have participated in the local absentee voting ahead of the May 13 midterm national and local elections.

Records from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Region 12 showed that 52 eligible voters took part in the three-day early voting in this city, nine in South Cotabato and 10 in Sultan Kudarat. Balloting started last Sunday until Tuesday.

Not one signed up for the local absentee voting in Sarangani Province while records for North Cotabato were not immediately available.

Comelec Region 12 has jurisdiction over the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato as well as the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.

Although it is part of Region 12, the elections in Cotabato City are supervised by the Comelec in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Clint Dumaguit, election assistant of the Comelec office here, said Wednesday 18 of the 52 early voters in this city were teachers assigned as members of the board of election inspectors (BEIs) on election day.

He said three were members of the city police office while 31 others were personnel of the Philippine Army assigned in the city.

Dumaguit said the local absentee voting for police and Army personnel was conducted in their respective camps while the BEIs cast their votes at the city election office.

“Most of them showed up in the last day of the scheduled voting,” he said.

Lawyer Jay Gerada, Sultan Kudarat election supervisor, said only 10 out of the 16 Army personnel under the 601st Infantry Brigade based in Tacurong City were able to cast their votes.

He said the six other eligible voters who failed to vote were either out on official leave or presently undergoing training or schooling.

In South Cotabato, provincial election supervisor Duque Kadatuan said two of the early voters in the area were media workers while the seven others were policemen assigned in Polomolok town.

Supt. James Gulmatico, deputy director for administration of the South Cotabato provinvial police office, said they received information that a number of policemen had applied to take part in the early voting but failed to get the Comelec’s approval.

“For example, in Polomolok, many of them applied there but only seven were approved. The Comelec was quite strict about the applications,” he said.

The Comelec has set the local absentee voting for members of the military, police, teachers, media and some government workers.

In the previous polls, only government officials and employees like teachers and members of the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines who were assigned in places where they were not registered voters were allowed to register for the local absentee voting.

Under Comelec Resolution 9637 promulgated last Feb. 13, local absentee voters can only vote for 12 senators and party-list representatives.

Those who failed to vote during the three-day period can still vote in the May 13 elections.