November 30, 2023
SECURED — The City Election Office led by Atty. John Paul Martin turned over 47 empty ballot boxes to City Treasurer Alex Cabarubias last week in preparation for the upcoming Oct. 30 barangay and SK elections. — Neil Clark Ongchangco

Government and private institutions whose functions are vital in the realization of peaceful and honest elections have been mobilized on Aug. 9 along with the activation of the City Joint Security Control Center (CJSCC) headed by the Commission on Elections, Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Baguio City Police Office.

In the CJSCC meeting, the BCPO announced it will activate election checkpoints in 24 areas around Baguio beginning midnight of Aug. 28, which is the start of the election period and gun ban.

Baguio has consistently been in the green category, meaning elections has generally been peaceful but City Police Director Col. Francisco Bulwayan, Jr. said the BCPO will be on alert for any eventuality.

For the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), police deployed at checkpoints are now required to wear body cameras in compliance with Supreme Court Administrative Order 21-06-08 which approved the Philippine National Police operational guidelines in the use of body cameras or alternative recording devices when serving arrest warrants or during the execution of arrests, Maj. Czymeere Valencerina of the BCPO City Task Group BSKE 2023 announced.

BSKE 2023 PREPARATIONS — Department of the Interior and Local Government Baguio Director Millicent Cariño; Comelec Baguio Director John Paul Martin; and BCPO Director, Col. Francisco Bulwayan, Jr. presided over the City Joint Security Control Center meeting in preparation for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 30. — DILG-Baguio photo

To ensure a peaceful election, Valencerina reported 222 policemen will be deployed in the 58 voting centers in the city and 442 officers on election day.

For the Department of Education, City Schools Division officer-in-charge Soraya Faculo committed 1,600 teachers who will serve as members of the electoral board (EB) are ready for training for the manual elections by September.

Compared to automated elections, Comelec Baguio City Election Officer John Paul Martin said the teachers have to be trained on the manual elections as appreciation of the veracity of the votes cast will depend on the teachers.

Unlike an automated elections where names of candidates are pre-printed on the ballots and automatically tallied, Martin said manual tabulation requires for the voter to write legibly, otherwise, the EB may declare these votes, stray.

The EB will also be the ones to proclaim the winning candidate, not the Comelec as practiced in the automated elections.

The last BSKE was in May 14, 2018.

For the DILG, Martin said the mandatory holding of the barangay assembly, which will coincide with the campaign period on Oct. 19 to 28 need not be set to another date but reminded the assembly must not become a venue to campaign.

Martin said for the BSKE, an individual will immediately be considered a candidate upon filing of candidacy, not like in the automated national and local elections where an individual will only be considered a candidate during the campaign period.

Filing of candidacy is from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

For the Benguet Electric Cooperative and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Martin said he will ask both power providers not to schedule maintenance activities three days prior to and three days after the elections.

Baguio has 169,711 voters for the barangay elections and 46,762 voters for the SK elections.

Other important dates for the BSKE are: Oct. 19 to 28 – campaign period. During this time, Martin said hiring, appointment and a disbursement ban will be in effect and Comelec will activate the multi-sectoral “baklas” team to remove campaign paraphernalia posted at prohibited areas.

Liquor ban and public works ban on barangay-funded projects will be on Oct. 29 and 30. The election on Oct. 30 is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.;  Nov. 29 is the last day of filing of statement of contributions and expenditures; and noon of Nov. 30 is start of term of office of barangay and SK officials. – Rimaliza A. Opiña