Voting delays feared as delivery of poll materials hits snags

10/24/2010 - CEBU CITY, Philippine – Election officials in Cebu, Negros Occidental and the provinces on Samar and Leyte islands have raised concerns about the possible delays in voting in some remote villages in these provinces because the official ballots and other elections forms for Monday’s barangay (village) and youth council elections had not arrived at polling precincts as of Sunday afternoon.

In Cebu, some election supplies arrived on Friday but these could not be released without the official ballots and important documents, such as the election returns and the minutes of voting forms.

Around 3,000 teachers and other members of the board of election inspectors (BEI) for the 1,438 voting precincts in Cebu City waited in vain since 7 a.m. at the City Hall for the arrival of the election supplies.

Cebu city treasurer Ofelia Oliva said they were later informed that the military plane (C-130) that would transport the ballots and other election forms to Cebu was to leave the National Capital Regionat 4:30 p.m. yet, arriving in Cebu at around 5:45 p.m.

From the airport, the election supplies are supposed to go to the warehouse of the forwarding company before these are transported to the different cities. Those bound for the towns would have to be brought first to the provincial Capitol, said Oliva.

At the Cebu Capitol, Virgilio Ramirez, municipal treasurer in San Francisco town of Camotes Island and president of the Cebu municipal treasurer’s association, said he was dismayed by the delay as he and other municipal treasurers had been waiting at the Capitol since early Saturday.

Ramirez said he was lucky for having a house in Cebu city but the others had to sleep at the provincial treasurer’s office.

Cebu provincial election supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano said the problem was traced to the late completion of the printing of the ballots.

“I was told that the printing of ballots was finished (only on Saturday) last night, Castillano said Sunday.

The delayed arrival of official ballots has been a problem not only in Cebu but in the whole Visayas and Mindanao as well, he said.

The delayed arrival of officials ballots has also been worrying election officials in Negros Occidental and Eastern Visayas.

Negros Occidental election supervisor Jessie Suarez said they would have to work until early Monday delivering all the materials to ensure the elections would push through in all areas in the province.

He said the election materials were expected to arrive at the Bacolod-Silay airport at 4 p.m.

In Roxas City, meanwhile, nine soldiers were deployed to the city’s island-village of Olotayan on Sunday to assist police in ensuring peaceful elections in view of the hotly contested race between two contenders for barangay chairman.

Supt. Kasmir Disomangcop, Roxas police chief, said the military was asked to assist the police because of the heated political situation Olotayan. The barangay chairmanship is being contested between incumbent barangay captain Manuel Aninang and former village chief Anita Alimosurin.(Inquirer)

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