The long-awaited Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, held last October 30, went through without a hitch in Laguna province – except for a few pockets of tension that marred an otherwise peaceful political exercise.
Without a hitch.
That was how authorities described the recently-conducted barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Laguna province last October 30, which despite a few incidents, went along smoothly.
While Laguna province has not been included in areas classified as “high-risk” by authorities due to the possibility of election-related violence, elections in this province – one of the most “vote-rich” provinces in the Philippines – have been watched with concern by political analysts and voters alike due to the intense nature of local politics, especially in the barangays.
Still, the conduct of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in Laguna province were held "peacefully" with authorities "successfully ensuring the safety and integrity" of the polls, according to the Laguna Police Provincial Office.
In its post-election report published on October 31, the Laguna PPO attributed the largely peaceful conduct of the elections to the deployment of over 2,000 personnel of the PNP, as well as 700 security forces from national and local law-enforcing agencies.
The Laguna PPO had also established a “Kontra-Bigay” committee and complaints desks for voters to report instances of vote-buying in the province, although as of press time, the police have yet to reveal if any barangay or SK candidate in the province have been reported for alleged vote-buying.
"During the election period, 42 suspects were apprehended for violating the election gun ban, while 26 individuals were apprehended for violating the liquor ban in Pila, Victoria, Bay, Cavinti, and Calamba City on October 29. Additionally, five suspects were apprehended for distributing campaign materials to voters on October 30 in Alaminos, Laguna," P/Col. Harold Depositar, chief of the Laguna PPO, said in the report.
Pockets of tension
Still, pockets of tension and controversy have erupted in the province as reports of alleged harassment and irregularities surfaced as the votes were being counted.
In Barangay Sto. Nino in San Pedro City, for instance, tensions flared as supporters of rival candidates reportedly came to blows at the polling precinct during and after the election.
Supporters of the camp of Nap Amil, who was running against incumbent barangay captain Jing Anchoriz, accused the latter of “harassing” voters and poll watchers and personally “supervising” the conduct of elections at the polling precincts, sources told OpinYon Laguna’s reporters.
A viral video now making the rounds in social media also showed what appears to be an altercation between the two camps at the polling precincts.
As of press time, both parties have yet to issue a statement regarding the issue. According to official results, Anchoriz, the incumbent barangay captain, won the election.
In Barangay San Antonio, another so-called “area of concern” in San Pedro City, accusations of irregularity in the vote-counting process also caused tension among supporters of incumbent barangay captain Eugenio “Jun” Ynion, Jr. and his rival, Edel Pajaro.
Ynion retained his seat by over a hundred votes, although supporters of Pajaro claim that the win was largely due to the presence of a “nuisance candidate” also named Edel Aguilar (the name Pajaro originally used in her campaign), who garnered around 600 votes.
The incumbent captain’s supporters, on the other hand, have accused San Pedro City Mayor Art Mercado (who has thrown his support behind Pajaro) of alleged vote-buying and attempts to interfere with the election process.
Ynion is still subject to a six-month suspension imposed by the San Pedro City Council a few months ago due to his failure to submit the barangay's budget to the local government, although it is still unclear whether this will have any effect on his re-election.
Fake news strikes again
This year’s elections were also marred by “fake news” circulating on social media about some candidates allegedly being “disqualified” by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the course of the campaign.
It should be noted that while Comelec did say that certain candidates in Laguna province could face suspension of proclamation should they win in the October 30 polls, the commission has yet to release the names of such candidates as of press time.
Speaking of “fake news,” certain candidates for Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) in Santa Rosa City – including one running for SK chairperson, were also accused of being part of a "troll farm" spreading fake news on social media sites such as Tiktok. (Latest reports indicate that all of these candidates were reportedly defeated in their election bids.)
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