By Perla G. Lena
ILOILO CITY (PNA Feature) – The curiosity of some 98 percent of the 3,950,515 registered voters in this vote-rich region over the new election system was satisfied when they cast votes during the historic May 2010 synchronized national and local elections.
The automated elections, which did push through after several hitches, had stirred public interest, thus the turnout was high.
And as an added bonus Western Visayas was one of the regions that delivered significant votes and helped push the presidential bid of now President Benigno Aquino III.
Aside from the province of Guimaras which delivered its commitment to presidential candidate, Atty. Gilbert Teodoro said results coming from other provinces of Western Visayas were rendered in favor of Aquino.
Meantime, some 37 newly-elected local chief executives in Western Visayas also marked their start of office simultaneous with that of Aquino.
The 37 newly-elected officials include Governors Exequiel Javier, Arthur Defensor Sr. and Alfredo G. Marañon Jr. from Antique, Iloilo and Negros Occidental, respectively, Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog and five other component city and municipal mayors.
Western Visayas is composed of six provinces; two HUCs; 13 component cities and 117 municipalities.
The conduct of elections here was not without glitches. Despite the strict implementation of the gun ban, the Police Regional Office 6 was able to record some 282 apprehensions; Negros Occidental with 83 and Iloilo City and province with 47 each.
Of the arrested, 11 are government workers composed of seven Philippine National Police (PNP) members, one barangay chairman, one provincial government employee and one barangay kagawad.
Others are members of the Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU), security guards, member of the Revolutionary Proletariat Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), barangay tanod and security officer.
Also, most incidents of election-related violence was recorded in Iloilo, the area that was the focus of the strict monitoring by the PNP. Five have been recorded in the province and three in the city of Iloilo, the data revealed.
The incidents in Iloilo province included the shooting of Barangay Kagawad Arsenio Flaviano in Loong village, Concepcion; burning by suspected CPP/NPA members of the tractor owned by mayoralty candidate Ligaya Apura in Barangay Pacuan, Lemery; disarming of PNP security escorts of incumbent vice mayor Peter Paul Lopez, barangay chairman Eugenio Eusebio Lopez and 14 civilians at Barangay Bacagay, San Dionisio; disarming of PNP members by suspected CPP/NPA in Barangay Agcalaga, Calinog; and, throwing of grenade in front of the house of now Estancia Mayor Rene Cordero.
Election-related violence in Iloilo City included the shooting of Luis Mondia Jr, a mayoralty candidate in Pulupandan, Negros Occidental in front of the Jaro Cathedral after attending the Ash Wednesday mass and the two separate grenade explosion in front of bakeshop owned by the family of now Congressman Jerry Trenas in Barangay Dungon A and their ancestral house in Barangay Taal, Molo.
A day before the elections, supporters of several candidates in Tibiao, Antique also clashed with police operatives conducting a mobile checkpoint in the area.
The incident caused the instantaneous death of four persons who are with the group of mayoral candidate Gil Bandoja.
Antique Police Provincial Office (APPO) director, S/Supt. Ruperto Floro said that what happened was a legitimate encounter between the local police and the team of Bandoja.
urther, five Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were burned in Barangay Caduldulan, Miagao, Iloilo as there was also a “ballot switching” that occurred in several municipalities.
While the “ballot switching” was immediately addressed in some areas of Iloilo, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was forced to suspend the election in Barangay Generoza, Cristobal in Guimbal after it switched ballots with those of Barangay Buenos, Pagsanghan, Western Samar.
But even with several problems encountered, the casting of votes in Western Visayas was successful.
This can be attributed to the vigilance of various sectors to include among others the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) which activated some 79 parishes all over Iloilo to keep an eye on the May polls.
Various power providers upon the coordination of the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) and the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) set aside 215 generator sets as back-up in the event of power failure.
The Police Regional Office 6 (PRO 6) also deployed more than a thousand personnel in various precincts region-wide. Meanwhile, the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections here in October also did not encounter major problems.