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Poll period restrictions in effect despite plan to cancel vote.

Summary: Election period starts October 1 for scheduled October 23 village level, youth vote

Gilbert P. Felongco, Correspondent

Manila: Restrictions and preparations observed for the village and youth council vote will remain in effect despite the looming cancellation of the October 23 elections.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said that given the absence of a law that will cancel the elections scheduled for October 23, the poll body will proceed with preparations for the conduct of the poll.

Filipinos are supposed to hold grass-roots level elections on October 23; however, President Rodrigo Duterte had announced that he is not in favour of holding the poll. The Philippines is in the middle of a massive drive against drug syndicates and their protectors in government, holding polls at this point would give corrupt local officials with ties to the drugs underworld fresh mandate to continue their nefarious ways.

According to Duterte, a large proportion of officials with links to drugs are at village level positions, such as barangay officials such as the chairman and councillors, and some elected youth representatives.

Jimenez said that while the President wants the elections cancelled, there is still no law that would put in effect such a move. Until such an edict is passed in Congress, preparations for an October 23 conduct of the vote will proceed.

According to Jimenez, election period in connection with the October 23, Barangay (Village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (Youth Representative) Elections will start October 1, 2017 and will end October 30, 2017.

During this period, restrictions are enforced such as the alteration of territory of a precinct; the carrying, bearing and transport of firearms and other deadly weapons; the use of security personnel or bodyguards by candidates; coercing, threatening, intimidating or terrorising any election official or employee, among others.

According to Jimenez violations of these restrictions are punishable by one to six years od imprisonment as well as disqualification of an individual to hold public office as well as take part in elections as a voter.

"At 12.01am of Sunday, October 1, 2017, the start of the election period, checkpoints shall be established nationwide to effectively implement the firearms ban," Jimenez added.

Amid brewing deliberations over the postponement of the barangay elections and the possible holdover by current officials, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) reminded village chiefs to conduct a village assembly on October 8, or face sanctions.

"Barangay officials who fail to conduct a barangay assembly may face corresponding administrative complaints, which can be filed by any resident of the barangay, concerned citizen, governmental or non-governmental entity before the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Sangguniang Bayan, [be] concerned," Department of Interior and Local Government Officer-in-Charge, Catalino Cuy, in his memorandum circular to village nationwide, says.

Next to the family, the village level is the smallest political organisation under the country's governance set up.

The current administration's efforts against drugs is anchored on village-level eradication of the menace.

From July 1, 2016, to September 26, 2017, operations conducted by the Philippine National Police against drugs have resulted in the arrest of 113,932 suspected addicts and users and the death of 3,906 drug personalities.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Oct 1, 2017
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