All systems go for special polls today

06/03/2010 - THE Supreme Court gives the go-signal for the holding of the special elections today, Thursday, with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) allocating P21 million for the activity.

The special polls will be held in one clustered precinct in the municipality of Glan in Sarangani province; one clustered precinct in Pagsanghan town in Western Samar; seven clustered precincts in Al-Barka town in Basilan; two clustered precincts in Maluso town in Basilan; and in all clustered precincts in seven municipalities of Lanao del Sur.

The P16 million will be for the use and deployment of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines while the remaining P5 million was allocated for the food, transportation, and honorarium of security officials and board of election inspectors (BEIs).

Another payment to Smartmatic has to be made since the contract for the lease of 82,200 counting machines was only good for ten days.

"We have to pay Smartmatic an extra amount for the use of the machines again because the contract entails one-time use only on election day, and if necessary ten days after," said poll chair Jose Melo.

Earlier, the poll body declared failure of elections in the said areas after some counting machines bugged down and some election-related violence were reported. BEIs also failed to show up in their assigned precincts.

Police trainees in Lanao

Through Resolution 8965, the Comelec en banc designated police trainees to act as special board of election inspectors in Lanao del Sur.

Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are also ready to provide security for the voters and the BEIs.

"Ready na po ang ating PNP and military for the special elections kaya all is in place," Sarmiento added.

The commissioner also clarified that they have properly informed the BEIs assigned in Lanao del Sur that they will not be serving on election day after they have assigned police trainees to do the job.

Comelec meanwhile called on the local candidates of the provinces involved in the special elections to prevent acts of vote buying as some reports have already reached the commission.

"I-respeto naman natin ang sovereign will of the people sa mga lugar na yan. Sa violence naman sana iwasan natin ito dahil ito ang dahilan na may special elections tayo and we cannot afford another special elections dahil magastos," Sarmiento added.

Automated voting and counting will still apply but the electronic transmission will be deferred to save on equipment costs.

The affected positions

Meanwhile, the Commission also said that the results of the special elections will likely not affect the tally of the national positions especially the vice presidential seat where Liberal Party's Mar Roxas and incumbent Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay are in a tight battle.

On June 1, with 203 certificates of canvass counted by the national board of canvassers, Binay holds on the top spot with 9,048,351 votes while Roxas follows closely with 8,749,968.

Only 80,256 voters are expected to vote in the special elections which will affect the local positions and the party-list ranking.

"Ang maapektuhan po ay ang local meaning congressional, mayor, vice mayor, councilors and party-lists din po," Sarmiento said.

The poll body chief added that the result of the special elections will also have a bearing on the seats allocated for the party-list groups.

special poll extension junked

Furthermore, Chief Justice Renato Corona junked the temporary restraining order requested by Salic Dumarpa, a congressional candidate for the first congressional district of Lanao del Sur.

Dumarpa sought to stop the electoral exercise schedule by the poll body today.

In a two page resolution, Corona ordered the Comelec to submit its comment on the petition filed by Dumarpa.

It also called for the creation of special Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) for the special elections (Sun Star)

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