February 24, 2024

■  Ofelia C. Empian 

Two deaths due to cardiac arrest during the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Oct. 30 were recorded by the Police Regional Office-Cordillera.

At 3 a.m. of Oct. 30, unopposed and re-electionist for punong barangay Jeffrey Tingday of Lanec, Tineg, Abra was pronounced dead by attending physician due to cardiac arrest.

Commission on Elections Cordillera Director Julius Torres said the number one kagawad will take the place of the deceased PB. 

In Baguio City, teacher Julie Busitan Paglilo was on her way to serve at Aguinaldo Elementary School as an electoral board when she suddenly collapsed.

She was brought to Baguio General Hospital but was pronounced dead due to acute coronary syndrome. 

Meanwhile, the PRO-Cor reported at 9:30 a.m. of Oct. 30, voting was temporarily halted due to indiscriminate firing, 300 meters from the Lapat-Balantay Primary School in Tineg, Abra.

The sound of firearms alarmed teachers who were serving as electoral boards that caused the halting of elections for three hours until it resumed at 12:30 p.m. after the police and military forces assured the safety of the teachers and voters.

The voting was extended for at least four hours to cover the delay.

A PB in one of the barangays in Bucay, Abra reported after casting his vote, he noticed the front tires of his car parked near the polling area were punctured causing the flat tires.

No untoward incident was recorded in Mabongtot, Lubuagan, Kalinga, one of the yellow category sites in the region due to the ongoing conflict among members of the ethnic group.

The police also recorded an incident of lack of official ballots in Barangay Upper Uma, also in Lubuagan.   

PRO-Cor Director B/Gen. David Peredo, Jr. said there were no reported verified incidents of vote buying and cases of harassment of candidates and voters.

He said during their monitoring at the Baguio City National High School polling site in Baguio City, there was a reported incident where a group of voters gathered together after casting their votes but the police dispersed them.

The police recorded 22 incidents of gun ban where 19 individuals were arrested and 19 firearms, including seven deadly weapons, were confiscated in Comelec checkpoints in the region.

Peredo said despite some incidents recorded, the police and other government security forces managed the situation.

Police forces deployed in Abra will stay in the province for at least a week or a few more depending on the situation. There are 71 from the PNP who were trained as electoral boards – 11 in Kalinga and 60 in Abra.

The PNP electoral boards replaced the teachers who withdrew as EBs in these areas. Peredo said they will continue their monitoring even after the elections.