The Commission on Elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Comelec-BARMM) needs more Army and Marines personnel to serve as poll officials for the Oct. 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE).
Lawyer Ray Sumalipao, the Comelec-BARMM director, said the poll body has already trained 2,000 police personnel to serve as electoral board (EB) members after about an equal number of teachers have refused to serve in the BSKE for BARMM's 2,590 villages.
'Relationship with candidates and security issues were among the reasons some teachers nix poll duties,' Sumalipao said in a radio interview Tuesday.
Sumalipao said part of the poll body's preparation is to train more members of the security sector to perform poll duties in the event more teachers refuse to serve, or when violence erupts.
'We must inculcate in our minds that in this coming political exercise, failure of election is not an option, hence this plan to have more alternate poll officials,' he said.
A day earlier, Sumalipao briefed police, Marines and Army personnel at the police regional headquarters in Camp SK Pendatun in Parang, Maguindanao del Norte on the BSKE situation in the region.
'We are asking you (police and military personnel) to volunteer to serve and we will train you in the event more teachers back out or violence erupts hours before the opening of voting,' Sumalipao said.
BARMM comprises the provinces of Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and the cities of Cotabato, Lamitan and Marawi. It has 2,590 barangays in 116 municipalities, including the 63 villages in North Cotabato that are now part of the autonomous government.
Based on Comelec data, BARMM has 2,740,000 registered voters expected to participate in the forthcoming BSKE.
The positions for village chairs, village councilors, Sangguniang Kabataan chairs and SK councilors will be contested in 2,590 villages across the region, and the voting will take place at 1,156 voting centers.
In 63 barangays in North Cotabato province now known as BARMM Special Geographic Area (SGA), there are about 125,000 registered voters, and they are to cast their votes at 67 voting centers composed of 553 polling precincts.
SGA villages have been listed by the police as areas with grave security concerns or under the red category.
Source: Philippines News Agency