Thursday, October 25, 2007

Comelec-7: Identical forms for barangay, SK polls lead to confusion

Cebu City (24 October) -- The almost identical forms in both the certificates of candidacy for the Barangay and the Sangguiang Kabataan (SK) elections have led to the confusion of some candidates who ended up filling the wrong form, according to an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec-7).

Cebu City North District Election Officer Atty. Marchel Sarno admitted in this morning's Kapihan sa PIA that tackled the upcoming synchronized Barangay and SK polls that some SK candidates have filled up the wrong form intended for aspiring barangay councilors.

Sarno said although the almost similar forms of both SK and the barangay certificates of candidacy may have contributed to the mistake but stressed that candidates should also be vigilant in submitting the correct filled-up form. The only difference between both forms is the title of the position one is running for.

Upon learning of the error after the submission of one's certificate of candidacy, a candidate is allowed to withdraw his certificate and submit the correct form while the deadline has lapsed last October 17, Sarno declared.

Those who have filled up the wrong form and will win in the polls will be declared but in case a disqualification complaint is filed, Comelec-7 will also have to take action on the matter, Sarno said.

SK candidates who have filed the wrong form are place at a disadvantage as their age is already sufficient basis to disqualify them to the post of barangay councilor. Candidates running for SK must be between the ages of 15 to 17 years old.

Sarno admitted that some SK voters that are aged 15 to 17 years will be disenfranchised as their votes can no longer be counted to a candidate that has erroneously filed the incorrect form since the certificate of candidacy is intended for a barangay post.

Asked what they can do to correct the situation, Sarno said their duty is purely ministerial in nature and that in such case the candidate may file a petition to the law department at Comelec Central Office to solve and rule on the case.

Sarno cited eight cases in Barangay Malubog where instead of SK forms, the eight SK candidates filled up certificates of candidacy for barangay councilors.

Under the law, candidates are required to undergo drug testing while October 18 was the deadline for the submission of the drug test results, according to the city election officer.

Failure to submit drug test results will not be a ground for disqualification but Comelec-7 however, will publish the names of those who have not complied in local newspapers per policy, Sarno revealed.

The Comelec-7 will gather the board of canvassers tomorrow for a briefing as the poll body is in its last stages of preparations. Likewise, there are about 3T teachers in the north district of Cebu City that will undergo an elections seminar this week, Sarno further said. (PIA-Cebu/FCR)

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