Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday called on Negrenses to keep the barangay elections today peaceful, credible and friendly.
“Let us avoid making the elections divisive, because, after the exercise, we will all have to work together for the peace and progress of the country,” the governor said.
Provincial Elections Supervisor Jessie Suarez said the Comelec is all set for the polls and they are urging voters to go out and vote early. Negros Occidental has 1.6 million voters, he said.
Voting will start at 7 a.m. and end at 3 p.m. today, he said.
Meanwhile, reports of vote-buying in Barangay 16, Bacolod were disclosed last night. Barangay Captain Nelson Ligaya said residents in Barangay 16 chased a vehicle his opponent was riding on that contained money allegedly for vote-buying.
Ligaya said he received reports that his opponent was distributing P500 per voter, and P1,000 to family leaders.
However, he said the police allowed the vehicle to go.
Senior Supt. Edgardo Ordaniel, Bacolod police acting director, said he told the complainants to record the incident and submit their evidence.
There were also reports, still unverified, of vote-buying in other barangays in Bacolod City last night.
The Comelec began delivering ballots to far-flung areas yesterday and was set to deliver those for voting centers near the centers of towns and cities at 2 a.m. today, Suarez said.
A total of 16,447 candidates are vying for barangay captain and kagawad posts in Negros Occidental, Comelec records show.
At stake are 662 positions for barangay captain and 4,634 for kagawad. Voters will elect a barangay captain and seven kagawads per barangay.
Suarez said he expects an 85 to 88 percent turnout of voters today.
Winners could be proclaimed before midnight today as counting of votes will start as soon as voting closes at 3 p.m., Bacolod Election Officer Mavil Majarucon-Sia said.
Milko Lirazan, Negros Occidental provincial police director, said the police have been on red alert since Saturday and this will continue until the proclamations of winners are concluded.
He said they are fielding 1,884 policemen for the polls today with two cops per precinct.
Ordaniel said the city cops are on full alert status. He said more than 400 cops will be deployed to secure the polls in Bacolod City.
Col. Jon Aying, 303rd Infantry Brigade commander, said the Army is fielding 3,000 soldiers, force multipliers and paramilitary men to secure the polling areas today.*CPG