In the absence of a final decision postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, the gun ban will begin today at the start of the monthlong election period for the twin polls.
The construction or maintenance of roads and bridges funded by the barangay will likewise be prohibited for 10 days this October.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has disallowed such construction or maintenance projects during the election period of the barangay and SK polls, pending the official postponement of the polls set on October 23.
The Comelec will implement the election period starting today, October 1, until October 31, which means that the gun ban and the operation of mobile checkpoints will be in effect starting today, according to Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano.
“We already coordinated with the PNP (Philippine National Police). They will be implementing our checkpoint and gun ban guidelines,” said Castillano on Saturday.
Within the election period, individuals are not allowed to carry their firearms and other deadly weapons unless given an exception by the Comelec office.
Candidates are also prohibited to have bodyguards or security aides unless given a special permit by Comelec.
At least one checkpoint, in line with the election period, for every municipality shall also be conducted by the PNP or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, based on Comelec Resolution no. 10198.
Violation of the guidelines in the implementation of the election period may deprive a person from holding any public office, the right to suffrage or imprisonment of one to six years.
Castillano clarified that one checkpoint was just the minimum, but the police could conduct more checkpoints, election-related or not.
“If they count it as Comelec checkpoints, they just have to inform the local election officer when and where will they conduct the checkpoints,” Castillano added.
Castillano also assured that Cebu provincial Comelec is ready should the barangay and SK elections would push through.
“Ready man g’yud unta ta. We are just waiting for the election paraphernalia from Manila. As long as moabot ang mga balota and other paraphernalia, we can proceed with the elections,” he said.
(We are ready. We are just waiting for the election paraphernalia from Manila. As long as the ballots and other election paraphernalia arrive, we can proceed with the elections.)
According to Castillano, the provincial election office has already coordinated with the Department of Education in Central Visayas (DepEd-7) for the personnel who will act as Board of Election Tellers (BETs).
“Since third week of September, we have already fixed that. If the elections will push through, we can deliver our functions,” Castillano told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview yesterday.
Based on the Comelec calendar of activities, barangay and SK candidates may submit their certificates of candidacy (COC) starting October 5 until October 11. The 10-day campaign period will start on October 12 until October 21.
Castillano, however, said they could not file a case for premature campaigning for those who have started to put up campaign materials before the campaign period since they could only consider an individual a candidate when he has already filed his COC.
Until yesterday, President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to sign the bill postponing the barangay and SK elections to May 2018 even as both the House of Representatives and the Senate have passed their respective congressional bills moving the twin elections to May next year.
Comelec Resolution no. 10202, on the other hand, states that the ban on barangay-funded roads and bridges will run from October 13 to 22.
“The construction or maintenance of barangay-funded roads and bridges shall be prohibited for a period of 10 days immediately preceding the date of election,” part of the resolution read.
The resolution was promulgated last September 26 even as the public was anticipating President Duterte’s signing of the law postponing the twin polls.
The Comelec stressed that government officials and employees, including barangay officials and government-owned or controlled corporations and their subsidiaries, are not allowed to release, disburse or expend any public funds for barangay-funded roads and bridges.
However, emergency work may be allowed if necessary due to the occurrence of a calamity.
“But such work shall be limited to the restoration of the damaged facility,” the Comelec added.
The ban will not apply to all ongoing barangay-funded roads and bridges projects which began before October 13, as well as similar projects under foreign agreements.
Such exempted projects must be listed and submitted by the barangay captains on or before October 13 to the local election officers.
“Any barangay public works not included in the list required to be submitted by the barangay chairperson shall be considered as falling under the public works ban,” the resolution stressed.
It may be recalled that Republic Act (RA) 10923, which postponed the 2016 barangay and youth polls to this year, states that the construction or maintenance of barangay-funded roads and bridges is prohibited for 10 days before election day.
This amended an earlier law, RA 6679, which stated that the construction or maintenance of provincial, city, municipal and barangay-funded roads and bridges will be banned for 10 days.