Pangasinan eyes peaceful drug-free Barangay, SK polls 

ON MAY 14, a total of 1,797,052 registered voters are expected troop to Pangasinan polls to elect barangay officials. Up to 683,462 qualified youths will cast their votes in the Sangguniang Kabataan election.

This was bared by the Commission on Elections’ provincial supervisor Marino Salas at the KBP Forum in Dagupan on April 12, two days before the start of the election period and the election gun ban on April 14.

The voters will be converging on 5,480 clustered precincts manned by three members of the Board of Election Tellers (BET), located in a total of 1,195 polling centers in 48 towns and cities of the province.

Salas said that the “best development” in these two elections so far is no town or city in Pangasinan being eyed as a potential hot spot.

“It’s none, zero at the moment,” said Salas, when asked about areas concern for Comelec and the police.

This is based on the assessment of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during the Provincial Joint Security Control Coordinating Conference with the Comelec on April 10 in Lingayen.

He added that the AFP is also confident that the New People’s Army (NPA) will have difficulty setting foot on the towns of San Nicolas and Natividad again.

But Salas said he remains wary of peace and order concerns once the registration period is over.

“The Barangay and SK elections, the playing field is smaller. In these elections, the candidates are neighbors, if not relatives… lalong mas mainit ang mga kandidato pag malimit magkita,” he said.

Salas also believes that the results of the May 10 elections will be crucial to prospects of the 2019 national elections, making prospective candidates and their supporters aim “to win whatever the odds”.

The filing of COCs will end April 20 and only then will the people know who will be locked in horns to win the elections, he said.

Salas also clarified that the requirement of a drug test for candidates in the province is not mandatory but voluntary.

“Let us not forget that Barangay and SK elections were postponed twice because of drugs.  So, it’s high time that the candidates prove that they are clear of drugs,” he said.

He added there is still no order requiring candidates to submit their resumés along with their COCs. At the same time, he said he is not inclined to encourage the holding of candidates’ forum under the auspices of Comelec owing to lack of time and funding.

But he said there will be signing of covenants among the candidates for the promotion of a peaceful and orderly election. (Leonardo Micua)

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