Baguio registers moderate to heavy turnout of voters; PROCOR says Cordillera elections generally peaceful

By Aurelio A. Galacgac

BAGUIO CITY, (PNA) –- This mountain resort with a voting population of more than 184,000 on Monday registered moderate to heavy turnout of voters for the incoming officials of barangays (villages), the smallest government unit in the country.

The exact voting population in the region was not immediately determined as voters who are 18 years old but below 21 were included in the list, but did not vote in today’s polls because the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) election was duly postponed.

The assessment was made by officer-in-charge city election registrar Anita Navalta who declared that the barangay polls here was generally peaceful and orderly.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has yet to officially announce the percentage of turnout of voters in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) which has almost one million registered voters as of the May 13, 2013 national elections.

Peaceful elections here was also the assessment made by Police Senior Superintendent Jesus Cambay, Jr., city director of the Baguio City Police Office (BCPO) who said that the only problem monitored was the hardship of some voters in locating their names and precincts.

Due to the strict implementation of the Philippine National Police (PNP) operation “SAFE” (Secure and Fair Elections), six persons were arrested violating liquor ban, one for gun ban, and one for carrying bladed weapon today.

Meanwhile, the polling centers here closed at 3 p.m. while some closed 20 to 30 minutes after the deadline to accommodate all voters who were still within the schools’ compound.

In the early tabulations, partial and unofficial results were determined that most of those who are in the winning slots are re-electionists.

This confirmed the earlier assessment of the Department of Interior and Local Government (LGU) that most of the barangay officials here are of well known dedication and efficiency during their former terms of office.

Meanwhile, the Police Regional Office Cordillera (PROCOR) overseeing the operation of “SAFE” in the CAR had initial assessment that elections through the mountainous region was generally peaceful and orderly.

Police Senior Superintendent David Limmong, PROCOR public information officer, said that even in Abra, the balloting and ongoing counting remain peaceful despite some tense situations.

Likewise, Limmong said that based on the field reports of police offices in Mountain Province, Kalinga, Ifugao and Apayao, some barangays have moderate to heavy turnout, while some only registered fair to moderate turnout.

”It was generally peaceful. We are still on alert to preserve the peace and order in our region,” said Limmong.

Like Baguio City, the barangays of Benguet Province registered moderate to heavy turnout of voters was noted in the 13 municipalities especially in the capital town of La Trinidad.

At this early, the counting of votes of that capital town held at the engineering building of the Benguet State University (BSU) is about to be finished.

This elections have reverted into manual elections but members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) had not encountered problems except for the protested appreciation of ballots.

Like in the barangay of Labsan in Baguio City, the two candidates for chairmanship who both have Reyes as their family names, are still discussing how to count the votes which merely indicated Reyes without their first names or first name officials.

Likewise in Quezon Hill, there was a question of how to deal with votes which indicated the family name “Julaton” instead of the correct spelling “Culaton”.

The Comelec through Navalta said that these minor questions shall be dealt with by their legal office once the parties lodge complaints on the issue.

This kind of problem only occurred at this time that the elections reverted to manual process.

For the past two elections — the presidential elections in year 2010 and the synchronized polls this year were both automated through the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

Further, the BCPO used the media channels to warn that the liquor ban will still be implemented up to 12:00 midnight Monday.

Records show that the liquor ban had been consistently violated here by some misguided residents.