BSKE generally peaceful despite incidents of violence: Philippine poll chief

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MANILA, Philippines, Oct 30, (Agencies): The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) held in the Philippines on Oct 30 were marked by relative peace and stability across the nation, according to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia. In a press briefing, Garcia noted that despite a few isolated incidents of violence, there were no reports of election-related violence in the 365 areas classified under the “red” category. Surprisingly, incidents of violence did occur in Nunungan, Lanao del Norte, and Butig, Lanao del Sur, which were not classified as high-risk areas.

Garcia emphasized that when viewed in the context of the elections that proceeded smoothly, these disruptions represented a relatively small percentage. He considered this an overall victory for the electoral process. While the exact voter turnout figures were yet to be released by Comelec at the time of the press conference, Garcia expressed optimism that it would fall within the range of 70 to 75 percent. However, he stressed that voter turnout should not be the sole indicator of the election’s success, as it ultimately depended on the choice of the citizens whether to exercise their right to vote.

Responding to questions about the effectiveness of Comelec’s stringent measures and efforts in shaping the electoral landscape, Garcia acknowledged it was challenging for them to provide a definitive assessment since they were the ones implementing these measures. Nevertheless, he noted that the cleaner and more organized electoral environment, even during the campaign period, represented a significant accomplishment. He believed that they had initiated changes that the public had been longing for over an extended period.

Additionally, Garcia reported the successful outcomes of certain pilot projects, such as the mall voting scheme and early voting hours for Persons With Disability (PWDs), senior citizens, and pregnant women. Mall voting, in particular, was praised for its organization, although some voters found the environment excessively cold compared to the humid conditions in some areas where voting occurred in schools.

Comelec did encounter persistent challenges, including missing names on the master list and difficulties in locating precincts. Garcia disclosed that Comelec identified 491,000 cases of multiple registrants, and these individuals were duly notified. Furthermore, the precinct finder occasionally went offline due to the high volume of inquiries on election day, with a brief three-minute shutdown every hour implemented to prevent hacking. Despite these challenges, Garcia highlighted the effectiveness of the precinct finder, with almost two million people successfully finding their names, a testament to the success of the electoral process.

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