Negros readies for special elections

Posted on April 24, 2012

BACOLOD CITY -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Occidental is in the thick of preparations for the special elections on June 2 despite the filing of a petition to scrap the exercise.

The district’s congressional post was declared vacant by the House of Representatives after Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” T. Arroyo, Jr. succumbed to a liver ailment last January.

“On our part, we’re on the go with our activities,” provincial election supervisor Jessie Suarez said in an interview last week.

The election period began on April 18, which was also the start of the 60-day gun ban. The filing for the certificates of candidacy is on May 14 and 15 while the campaign period is from May 17 to 31.

Mr. Suarez said half of the P21.6-billion budget for the special elections has already been spent.

Election paraphernalia, including the certified list of voters and identification cards of poll watchers, have started to arrive in the province while members of the Board of Election Inspectors have been appointed.

“These are already complete except for the official ballots that are released by the Comelec Manila two or three days [before the election],” he added.

A petition seeking to scrap the electoral exercise was filed by lawyer Romulo Macalintal before the Supreme Court last week.

Mr. Macalintal, who believes the holding of the special elections is illegal, said time constraints should be considered by the Comelec because by October 1, candidates for the 2013 elections will already be filing their certificates of candidacy.

“It is so impractical to hold such an election on June 2,” he added.

However, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview he doubted that the Supreme Court will grant the election lawyer’s petition because House Resolution 2171 called for the conduct of the special elections after declaring the 5th district congressional seat vacant.

He added that there is a budget for the June 2 special elections and it would be unfair for the residents of the 5th district not to have a representative in Congress because of a funding issue.

“The Comelec followed legal procedures in setting the calendar of activities,” he said. -- Nanette L. Guadalquiver