CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)--In a bid to ensure the safety and organization of the 2023 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE), the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)-10 orchestrated the Regional Coordinating Conference, August 23, at the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (4ID, PA), Camp BGen Edilberto Evangelista, here.
The event drew the participation of various national line agencies, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), and other deputized entities.
Amid the discussions surrounding the peace and order situation across the region, a key focal point of the conference was the establishment of the Committee on Kontra Bigay. Officially formed on March 22, 2023, the Committee on Kontra Bigay is dedicated to efficiently enforcing the whole-of-nation approach, encompassing the commission's policies and guidelines aimed at curbing the practices of vote-buying and selling.
Danilo Dividina, election officer of Malaybalay City, detailed that COMELEC established a complaint call center to execute the duties of the Kontra Bigay committee, promptly addressing violations of the Omnibus Election Code, particularly Sections 261 and 262 of Batas Pambansa Bilang 881.
"Included in the prohibition are those digital or online banking transactions or any other mobile wallet applications. For this purpose, the commission shall deputize and coordinate with the relevant government agencies," Dividina said.
Based on the Omnibus Election Code, any person found guilty of any election offense under this Code shall be punished with imprisonment of not less than one year but not more than six years and shall not be subject to probation.
In addition, the guilty party shall be sentenced to suffer disqualification from holding public office and deprivation of the right of suffrage. If he is a foreigner, he shall be sentenced to deportation, which shall be enforced after the prison term has been served.
Election preparations in Normin
The peace and order situation in Region 10 remains normal and stable for the period, as the Philippine Army stated during the conference, adding that the threat from various terrorist groups to disrupt BSKE 2023 in the region is least probable to happen.
"This is after successful military operations that resulted in the neutralization of the CTGs and LTG key leaders and their members, which further weakens their capabilities to conduct atrocities," Col. Danilo Ambe of PA said.
Ambe also emphasized that they will assist local government units and other agencies in resolving conflicts between feuding families and political clans. Efforts will also focus on reducing the presence of loose firearms and criminal activities, enhancing troop capabilities through checkpoint operation training, and monitoring barangays with potential election concerns.
PNP-10's Regional Operation Division Chief, PCol. Wilbur Salaguste, reported that they participated in the Training and Cascading of the Election Monitoring System from August 15 to 17 as part of their BSKE preparation. The identification of telecommunication signal dead spots within their jurisdiction prompted plans for the installation of repeaters and signal boosters.
The PNP will also conduct simulation exercises to address potential worst-case scenarios during the pre-, during, and post-election phases, along with electoral board training for PNP personnel in collaboration with local election officers.
Gingoog City Election Officer, Lawyer Margie Luma-ad, highlighted the specific timelines for the election period. The BSKE 2023 election period and gun ban are set from August 28 to November 29. The filing of certificates of candidacy will occur from August 28 to September 2. Campaigning is prohibited from September 3 to October 18, with the official campaign period spanning from October 19 to October 28.
A two-day campaign hiatus on October 29 and 30 will coincide with the liquor ban. Election day is slated for October 30, 2023, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. An emergency accessible polling place for persons with disabilities, senior citizens, and pregnant women will operate from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The deadline for filing the Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE) is November 29.
COMELEC-10 Regional Director Renato Magbutay said there will still be upcoming coordination meetings "in making sure that we have prepared enough and making sure that we can conduct a successful elections." (RTP/PIA-10)
Fostering safe and orderly 2023 Barangay and SK Elections, the Commission on Elections-10 leads the Regional Coordinating Conference, August 23, 2023, at the 4th Infantry Division, Philippine Army (4ID, PA), Camp BGen Edilberto Evangelista, Cagayan de Oro City. (RTP/PIA-10)