Barangay polls more politicized – PPCRV

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Voters look for their names on the lists posted outside a polling precinct in Manila.

MANILA, Oct.  28, 2013— The conduct of today’s barangay elections has showed more bad than good for the future of the country’s smallest political units, a Church-backed poll watchdog said. 

From the campaign period up to the election day, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting lamented how barangays polls have become breeding ground for bad politics. 

Henrietta de Villa, PPCRV chairperson, said this year’s election was more partisan and more heated because politicians, dynasties and political parties have penetrated the barangay. 

“There are places that are very partisan,” De Villa lamented as 336,000 barangay captains and councilor posts were up for grabs in the elections. 

“If there are candidates that are openly being supported by a political party or incumbent public officials then that means that once these barangay officials get elected, they should become ward leaders and this should not be the case,” she said. 

According to her, being the smallest political unit, the barangay should maintain its objectivity. 

“Being the smallest political unit, you must understand that politics should always work for the good of the people and not for any political party of public official,” De Villa said. 

The watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Election (Lente) said this year’s barangay polls were still marred by several incidents involving election offenses such as rampant vote buying and selling. 

The group said it has observed recurring problems such as unlawful electioneering, unauthorized entry of candidates in the polling places and disenfranchisement. 

“While most of the polling places were able to open, several precincts reportedly did not open on time due to the late arrival of ballots and other election paraphernalia,” Lente said in a statement. 

The Philippine National Police also noted a spike in poll-related violence to 34 in the four-week run-up to the polls, compared to the 25 incidents during the whole 45-day village polls in 2010. 

As of Monday morning, the PNP said 22 people have reportedly been killed, including eight barangay councilors and three village chiefs, while 27 were wounded. 

De Villa, meanwhile, said she would ask Congress and the Department of Budget and Management to allocate funds to create a unified computerized voters’ list to address the problem of disenfranchisement voters. 

“The PPCRV would closely look into this. We would make a recommendation to the Comelec to look at this and make clear policies about this. This is disenfranchisement and many of them cannot find their names in the list. This is not a small matter,” she said. 

De Villa added, “We would also write a letter to Congress and the DBM that if there is an allocation about this in the budget, they should not remove the specific budget because (reconciling of the names of voters) is important, it is part of the process, in order to come up with a unified voters’ list.” 

While accessible polling places were set up in some areas for persons with disabilities and senior citizens, Lente still expressed concern that “accessibility remains a key issue. (CBCPNews)

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