By Stephanie Sevillano

NO MORE EXTENSIONS. Commission on Elections Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said there will be no more extension for the filing of candidacy despite the inclement weather in Metro Manila and Abra. In an interview, he said the poll body is projecting up to around 1.5 million aspiring candidates for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections as the agency wrapped the last day of filing of certificates of candidacy on Monday (Sept. 4, 2023). (Photo courtesy of Comelec)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday finished the last day of extended filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) in Metro Manila and Abra. 

In an interview, Comelec Chairperson George Erwin Garcia said that although there was a small number of filers during the last day, the poll body expects around 1.5 million candidates nationwide for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE). 

There are only 672,016 seats that need to be filled for both barangay (village) and SK positions, but as of 11 a.m. around 1,390,162 aspiring candidates already filed their COCs. 

Of the total, there are about 95,731 aspiring village chairpersons and 721,181 candidates for village council members; and 91,033 aspiring SK chairpersons and 482,217 vying to become SK members. 

“The results are more than what we can ask for. Our congratulations and much appreciation to everyone who joined and assisted us in this activity,” Garcia said in a Viber message. 

Election-related violence

Garcia, meanwhile, noted that the COC filing from August 28 has been peaceful thus far. 

“Kung ikukumpara natin sa last  filing of candidacy, ito na po ang pinakamatahimik, pinakamaayos, (at) pinaka-organized na filing of certificate of candidacy (If we are to compare it to last the last COC filing, this has been the most peaceful, well-ordered, and most organized COC filing),” he said. 

Garcia, however, disclosed one reported incident that allegedly prevented a candidate from filing his COC in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. 

“Nagkaroon ng putukan, at the same time, mayroong sinasabi na hinarangan ‘yung magpa-file ng certificate of candidacy (There was a reported shooting, at the same time, there was a report that a filer was prevented from submitting the COC),” he said. He, however, declined to give specifics. 

“Magmula sa Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, hanggang sa North, hanggang dun sa mga binabantayan nating possible areas of concern, wala pong kahit anong pangyayari na ganyan. Naging maayos ang filing, bukod tangi lang ang lugar na ‘yan (From Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, up to the North, even to places being monitored as possible areas of concern, there was no recorded instance expect for that one area),” he said.

Garcia said immediate response was made following the incident, and, in coordination with the Philippine National Police (PNP), a warrant of arrest against three unnamed suspects was requested. 

He also raised the possibility of filing possible charges such as on gun ban, illegal discharge of firearms, and alarm and scandal. 

He also warned of more stringent implementation of election measures during the BSKE polls on October 30. 

To date, the poll body is still waiting for the PNP’s final security assessment nationwide before setting areas of concern about the upcoming polls.  (PNA)