As part of the dry run to the May 13 balloting, the Commission on Elections conducted a final testing and sealing of counting machines which the poll body described as successful. Photo shows teachers of the Rizal Central School in Tacloban City superivising the testing of the counting machines. (ROEL T. AMAZONA)

Over 3.05 million voters are to cast their votes

TACLOBAN CITY-As the region’s more than 3.05 million voters are to troop at their respective polling precincts on Monday(May 10), the Commission on Elections (Comelec) assures of a peaceful, honest and orderly elections.
On Wednesday (May 8), the Philippine National Police (PNP) deployed 1,380 personnel with the Army augmenting the security personnel to help secure the balloting with another 2,000 forces.
Officials of both the PNP and the Army asked their personnel not to engage acts that could taint the image of their organizations and always remain neutral.
Lawyer Rafael Olaño, Comelec regional director, said that they are ready with the Monday’s midterm elections as all the elections paraphernalias now ready to be delivered to all the region’s 3,771 polling centers which are mostly public schools.
The poll body, with the concurrence of both the police and the Army, declared 11 areas in the region, four in Samar and seven in Northern Samar, ‘category red’ or grave areas of concern.
Killings, mostly in Samar province, have occurred during the election period involving political supporters or barangay officials. Members of the rebel New People’s Army have also conducted ambuscades on these areas, particularly in Northern Samar.
“We will closely monitor these areas and we are ready to deploy additional troops if needed on these areas to ensure that any possible violence could be thwarted,” Olaño said.
He said that the security component to include the civil components like personnel coming from the Department of Education and Department of Health, are all ready for the May 13 elections.
“We are prepared for the elections and have delivered all the election paraphernalias,” Olaño said.
All these election paraphernalias are currently deposited at the city and municipal treasurer offices and fully secured by police and Army personnel.
The Comelec had conducted the final testing and sealing of the voting counting machines on Thursday with the Comelec reporting of no major untoward incident.
There are 3,391 candidates in the region who are vying for elective posts up for grabs in the Monday’s elections.
The candidates are seeking to fill up 12 congressional posts, six for governors and vice governors positions and their respective board members, cities and municipal mayoralty posts and their respective councilors.
The voters are also to vote for 12 senators and one party-list group.
The polling precincts are to open at 6 am and to close by 6 pm.
The Comelec regional director also issued an appeal to the candidates and the voters alike not to resort to vote-buying which has been reported to have occurred in the different parts of the region days before the balloting.
“If there are reports on vote-buying, please inform our office and those who have witnessed it, make an affidavit and file complaint. We really need to stop this vote-buying (scheme),” Olaño said.
Reports have said that money ranging from P20 up to P3,000 were being dangled by candidates just to ensure their poll victories.
Brigadier General Ariel Arcenas, police regional deputy director for administration, said that the primary goal why they have deployed security personnel is to ensure that the conduct of elections on their respective areas of assignment would be orderly and peaceful.
This way, the voters could exercise their right of suffrage without fear.
For his Brigadier Gen. Eliezer Losañes, deputy commanding general of the 8th Infantry Division, said that soldiers deployed for election duties were also committed to ensure that the conduct of the elections in the region would be smooth and violent-free.
“We also remind them to remain apolitical to avoid violence and not to side (any candidate),” Losañes said. (with reports from RESTITUTO A. CAYUBIT,LIZBETH ANN A.ABELLA and RONALD O. REYES)