THE election period for the barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14 kicked off on Saturday with the filing of candidacy and setting up of police checkpoints starting at 12 midnight of Friday.
Election officials in the provinces of Bataan, Tarlac and Laguna reported a generally peaceful filing of candidacy in the barangay and SK polls while Pangasinan reported a first arrest for violation of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban, 30 minutes after midnight on Saturday.
Early filers for the positions of village chairman, councilman, SK chairman and SK council members came in trickles that Comelec officials said most of the candidates prefer last minute filing. The deadline is on April 20.
In Bataan, Senior Supt. Marcelo Dayag, provincial police director, and Gilbert Almario, Comelec provincial chief, said security plans and checkpoints installed in various towns and the City of Balanga were all in place during their inspection at dawn on Saturday
Dayag said they made sure the checkpoints are well-lighted with clear signages showing the names and contact numbers of the election officer and chief of police of the respective towns and city.
“ The checkpoint must be conducted at any given time, day or night,” he said.
Almario said the election period is from April 14 to May 21.
Maribeth Abadecio, Samal town election officer, said policemen manning the checkpoints must only flag down the vehicle and conduct visual search without body contact on the passengers or riders.
In Laguna, Senior Supt. Kirby Kraft, acting provincial director, led the province-wide Comelec checkpoint that aims to eliminate and discourage individual and criminal groups and avoid election related violence and other crimes.
Kraft requested the residents to cooperate with the police manning the checkpoints as he assured the public that the Philippine National Police will uphold their rights and the rule of law.
“All PNP personnel of Laguna who will conduct checkpoints operations are required to be visible and wear complete uniform, established in well-lighted areas and be courteous in dealing with motorists” he added.
In Tarlac, the local Comelec office reported only a few filers on the first day.
Meanwhile, the caretaker of a farm reportedly owned by a businessman in a remote village in Manaoag, Pangasinan, was arrested for carrying a gun while creating trouble during the implementation of the Comelec gun ban.
Chief Insp. Dave Mahilum, town chief of police, identified the suspect as Rene Balindan, 16, a native of Albay and residing at Barangay Sapang in Manaoag.
Insp. Jesus Tambalo, who led the police responding team, said Balindan was arrested at about 12:30 a.m. on Saturday while brandishing a caliber 9mm pistol loaded with bullets owned by his employer which he used to harass residents in the village.
Residents said the suspect always creates trouble in their village every time he gets drunk.
with ROSELLE R. AQUINO, JERRY HERNANDEZ AND JAIME G. AQUINO