For failing to register as voters in this week’s barangay elections, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) suspended the proclamation of almost 500 winning candidates.
The poll body said that it had discovered that hundreds of candidates were not registered as voters, including 90 persons who ran for barangay captain.
“We suspended the proclamation of more or less 500 (erring candidates),” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr. said.
Poll Commissioner Christian Robert Lim explained that the suspension of the proclamation of these officials is a “precautionary move, pending the hearing on the merits of their actual statuses.”
“Once they are proclaimed, we will lose jurisdiction on the cases.
These will now be in forms of election protests, which will take a longer time to resolve,” Lim said.
Based on Comelec records, there were 400 candidates who did not register as voters, eight candidates who have been accused of being nuisance bets, and four who were convicted of criminal offenses.
Brillantes said that only registered voters are qualified to seek public office.
If a certain winning candidate is disqualified, the next candidate with the second highest number of votes will be proclaimed as winner by the poll body.
The Comelec chief said that they were not able to disqualify these candidates because they had little time to screen them.
However, he gave assurances that the commission will be able to decide all the cases before the new terms of office of the winners start on November 30.
The Comelec said that as of yesterday afternoon, about 75 percent of the winning barangay candidates had been proclaimed.
“Out of 42,028 positions, 30,790 candidates for these positions have been proclaimed already,” Teopisto Elnas Jr., director for Election and Barangay Affairs, told reporters.
“That’s 73.29 percent, excluding Zamboanga City, Bohol, Calayan in Cagayan and Pikit in North Cotabato,” he said.
The Comelec did not hold elections in Zamboanga City and Bohol.
Residents in several barangays in Pikit Cotabato were also not able to vote because no teacher was willing to serve. The election in Calayan, Cagayan was postponed to October 30 because the election paraphernalia were not delivered on time.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas admitted that it is difficult to investigate and prosecute candidates involved in vote-buying, which was rampant in the barangay election.
“Talagang mahirap yun sa vote-buying, dahil patago ito… sikreto ito at kung walang nagreklamo, walang nagturo, paano naman papasok ang pulis at mag-arresto ng tao (It is really difficult to run after vote-buyers because it was done in secret. If no one will file a complaint and identify people involved in vote-buying, how can the police step in?” Roxas told reporters.
He said that it is hard to pin down the erring candidates because neither the person who gave the money nor the one who received it will admit to the deed.
“The problem with vote-buying is that there has to be a complainant and in this case, none were complaining. We have intelligence reports, unvalidated reports,” the DILG chief said.