The Visayan Daily Star
THE Commission on Elections yesterday said it will ensure that residents of the fifth district of Negros Occidental will be able to freely exercise their right to vote on Saturday.
COMELEC Regional Director Dennis Ausan gave the assurance amid reports of the alleged presence of road blocks and armed men in some areas that could hamper voting for the new congressman of the fifth district. The special election is being held to fill the seat left vacant with the death of Rep. Ignacio Arroyo Jr., who died in January.
Running for the post is Negros Occidental Board Member Emilio Yulo III, 48, of the Nacionalista Party and his uncle Binalbagan Mayor Alejandro Mirasol, 58, of the Liberal Party.
The fifth district is composed of Himamaylan City, Binalbagan, Hinigaran, Isabela, La Castellana and Moises Padilla.
The campaign period for the post ended at midnight yesterday (May 31, 2012) and a liquor ban is now in effect until midnight of June 2, Provincial Election Officer Jessie Suarez said yesterday.
The COMELEC also warned against vote buying and vote selling, the distribution of propaganda materials for or against a candidate in the polling place or 30 meters from it, giving or accepting free transportation, food drinks and things of value, and holding of cockfights on election day.
Top officials of the COMELEC will be in Negros Occidental to monitor and supervise the special election, Ausan said.
COMELEC Commissioner Armando Velasco arrived yesterday while set to arrive this afternoon are Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Commissioner Christian Robert Lim.
Himamaylan Mayor Agustin Ernesto Bascon, who is supporting Yulo, yesterday expressed concern over the presence of alleged armed Revolutionary Proletarian Army men in Sitio Tara, Barangay Carabalan, Himamaylan City.
"We hope the authorities keep the election clean and honest," he said.
Concern was also earlier raised over an alleged roadblock in Barangay Inolingan, Moises Padilla, that could bar supporters of Mirasol from voting. Pulupandan Mayor Magdalena Peña, who is supporting Yulo, assured that he will not bar people passing through his grandmother's property to vote, as long as they ask permission from him to pass.
Ausan also noted that there are other roads that lead to the polling area in Inolingan.
Ausan assured that their assessment of the coming election is very positive, it looks very manageable and they pray and hope that it will hold until a winner is proclaimed.
The votes will be manually counted and the proclamation of the winner is expected Sunday morning, Election Supervisor Jessie Suarez said.