Comelec vows raps vs those who delayed BSKE by last minute withdrawals

Philippine Tribune
Philippine Tribune

By LLANESCA T. PANTI, GMA Integrated News

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday vowed to file criminal and administrative charges against teachers and police officers who delayed the 2023 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) by backing out of election duty at the last minute.

“If we study the Omnibus Election Code, criminal po iyon eh, at the same time, administrative. Hindi kasi puede [na ganun na lang eh] kasi otherwise, mauulit nang mauulit,” Garcia told reporters.

(It is a criminal offense and an administrative offense at the same time. We cannot just let it go because it will happen over and over again.)

“Okay lang magwithdraw prior [to election day] kasi naiintindihan naman po namin na hindi mandatory ang election day service. Pero, kung halimbawa, ikaw na na-train na, pagkatapos nagkagastos-gastos na kami, tapos on the day of the election, bigla ka magwi-withdraw. Worse, iyong pinalit namin, bigla rin magwi-withdraw. Something is wrong with that,” Garcia added.

(It would be fine if you withdraw before election day because election service is not mandatory. But if you already trained, and we already spent for training, then on election day, you will withdraw from poll service. And worse, even the replacements also withdrew.)

Based on Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, Election Inspector and Canvasser Board members were prohibited from deliberately absenting “himself/herself from the meetings of said body for the purpose of obstructing or delaying the performance of its duties or functions.”

Garcia said that such last-minute withdrawals were a familiar narrative in certain areas.

“Iyong lugar, iyon na lang lagi iyong may ganyan [na last minute withdrawal]. Hindi nagbabago ang script. Laging ganyan, paulit-ulit na lang. We have to deal with them directly,” Garcia said.

(The same thing is happening in the same areas again and again. The script never changes.)

“At the same time, we have to deal with the responsible appointive or elected officials in charge of them. Why the delay when there was no shooting incident or harassment or whatever?” Garcia added.

Garcia said that around 2,530 teachers backed out of their voluntary election day service in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

Asked what made even the police officers, the backup Board of Election Inspectors, also beg off, Garcia said the police said they were caught off guard by the sudden need to render election service.

Garcia, however, was not satisfied with the explanation.

“They said it was about a short amount of time. Yes, it was a short time, but we trained them for it,” Garcia said. — DVM, GMA Integrated News

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