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Bacolod City, Philippines Tuesday, July 30, 2013
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Voter registrants faint
in Bacolod stampede


Eight registrants for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections fainted during a stampede at the BAYS Center in Bacolod City Sunday when others who were issued priority numbers and were queuing outside the gym destroyed the gates and fences to get in.

Bacolod Councilor Caesar Distrito disclosed this during a joint public hearing yesterday at the Bacolod Government Center.

Distrito said the police reported that there were applicants who had bought tickets for the concert at the BAYS Center Saturday, so they were already inside the gym when the others, who had been issued priority numbers, arrived the next day.

Police Station 1 commander Chief Inspector Levy Pangue yesterday said one of his policemen suffered a broken arm when they tried to control the crowd.

During the joint public hearing held yesterday by the Committee on Laws, Ordinances and Good Government and the Committee on Barangay Affairs, Distrito decided to request the Commission on Elections to extend the registration for the Barangay and SK elections in Bacolod City to accommodate all who would like to register.

He said he will follow up his letter with a resolution he will present at their regular session tomorrow because he believes it would be impossible for COMELEC personnel to accomplish the task in just 10 days.

The registration of the Barangay and SK election is from July 22 to 31.

Barangay officials present said some of their constituents have to line up as early as 2 a.m. hoping to be accommodated, while some stayed on till the next day.

Distrito said this is because, in the case of Bacolod, only 600 applicants can be accommodated per day and some have to bear the heat of the sun or get drenched when it rains just to register.

Refusing to register or accommodate them and extending the registration, is a violation of the Constitution, and a disenfranchisement of the voter, he said.

This is the first time COMELEC held a 10-day registration when in 2010 it was held for two months.

Vice Mayor Greg Gasataya also said he believes the extension of the registration will help resolve the problem.

Bacolod Election Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia said that election officers in the province were unanimous in objecting it upon learning that the registration will only be for 10 days. They wrote the regional director if they could ask for an extension have not received an answer until now.

Councilor El Cid Familiaran asked the police to prevent coordinators from entering the BAYS Center after receiving reports that priority numbers were sold at P50 by some enterprising individuals living near the area.

Majarucon-Sia said they have observed that there are coordinator and facilitators who bring registrants to the BAYS Center to register.

She said they will no longer issue priority numbers but will accommodate applicants on a first come-first served basis and there will be no preferential treatment even among her relatives. She said their mandate is to come out with a credible list of voters.

She has not authorized anyone to assist the COMELEC and has only delegated the crowd control to the police, Majarucon-Sia said, adding that the Bureau of Internal Revenue also confirmed that they did not issue ID’s to the barangays

Majarucon-Sia said they can only accommodate 300 applicants for the SK and 300 regular registrants per day. And as of Sunday about 3,630 SK have registered.

She said they have one person attending to those with disability, senior citizens and heavily pregnant women.

Meanwhile, Distrito said part of the budget for the Barangay and SK elections should come from the barangays. Each At least each barangay is required a minimum of P10,000 to be used for the salaries of the Board of Election Inspectors, and other expenses.*CGS

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