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Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Map of Mindanao | Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday (March 19) declared the entire region of Mindanao as an election hotspot ahead of the 2019 Midterm polls.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement the decision developed in the wake of suspected poll-related incidents in the last two elections in the country, and “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army (NPA), the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and some rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other similar groups.

Jimenez said the military and police joined the Comelec in identifying Mindanao as a hotspot under Category Red.

Other areas classified as Category Red hotspots are Jones in Isabela; Lope de Vega in Northern Samar and the entire province of Abra.

“The category red may warrant the motu propio declaration of Comelec Control over the affected area,” Jimenez said.

“The Comelec En Banc may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the need arises,” he added.

Category Red also refers to areas where relevant government agencies declared the existence of conditions which may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec Control.

The PNP, AFP and Comelec follow a system of classification in determining election hotspots: category orange refers to areas where there are serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other similar groups; category yellow refers to areas with history of election-related violence or the existence of intense political rivalry but without the presence of terror groups; while category green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful.

The Midterm elections, set for May 13, 2019, are expected to be participated by more than 60 million registered Filipino voters. – Robie de Guzman

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Overseas absentee voting kicks off April 13

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Saturday, April 13th, 2019

An overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Dubai participates in 2013 Philippine elections through overseas absentee voting (OAV). (Lonix Foto Grafix | PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – The month-long overseas absentee voting (OAV) has begun today, April 13.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV) said there are a total of 1,822,173 overseas voters for this election. Majority of this voters are land-based workers totaling 1,779,140 while 43,033 are sea-based workers.

In photos taken by UNTV News and Rescue team in Singapore (correspondent Queenie Ballon), some of the registered Filipino voters there have lined up early at the Philippine Embassy to cast their votes.

Overseas Filipino worker Bobby Catolos, who has been working in Singapore for 20 years now, said he makes it a point to consistently exercise his right to suffrage since 2007.

In Hongkong, the UNTV News and Rescue team (correspondent Ferdie Petalio) reported that Filipinos there also went to cast their votes early despite the inclement weather.

Comelec-OFOV said most of the registered voters are in the Middle East and African region followed by the Asia Pacific, North and Latin America and European region.

However, there will be no OAV in three areas—Damascus in Syria, Tripoli in Libya and Baghdad in Iraq—due to the ongoing tensions there.

READ: DFA raises alert level 3 in Libya

Comelec said that of the 83 countries or Philippine posts, 41 will use vote counting machines (VCM), while Filipinos abroad within the jurisdictions of the remaining 42 areas will use the manual system of voting, either personal or through postal.

The 41 posts that will use VCMs include Agana, Brunei, Calgary, Chicago, Canberra, Honolulu, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Macau, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, Kaohsiung, Taichung, Taipei, Osaka, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo, Wellington, Athens, London, Madrid, Rome, Milan, Beirut, Abu Dhabu, Kuwait, Manama, Doha, Dubai, Jeddah, Muscat, AL-Khobar, Riyadh and Tel Aviv.

The 42 countries that will use postal voting are Buenos Aires, Brasilia, Bangkok, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzho, Hanoi, Islamad, Mexico, Santiago, Port Moresby, Yangon, Ankara, Berne, Budapes, Berline, Brussels, Budapest, Lusbon, Moscow, Geneva, Oslo, Paris, The Hague, Vienna, Warsaw, Prague, Cairo, Pretoria and Abuja.

Personal voting will be used in Jakarta, Dhaka, Dili, Manado, New Delhi, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Xiamen, Shanghai, Vatican, Amman, Tehran and Nairobi.

Comelec-OFOV hopes for higher voter turnout this election than the 16 percent recorded in 2007 and 2013 polls.

The overseas absentee voting will last until May 13. – Robie de Guzman

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Comelec spox calls on politicians to spare dogs from politicking

by UNTV News and Rescue   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – A photo of a dog with a campaign sticker on its body has gone viral on social media.

No less than Commission on Election (Comelec) Spokesperson Director James Jimenez posted the image on his Twitter account with the caption:

“Seriously. Isn’t it enough that politicking has already trashed the country you claim to love, you’ve got to harass dogs too?”

Netizens condemned what they claim as animal cruelty or a form of political gimmickry.

Jimenez did not mention any violation that corresponds the act but at the end of the caption, he called on the public to “Leave.Dogs.Alone.” – Marje Pelayo

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Comelec suspends polls for House seats in Southern Leyte

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will hold special elections for the two new legislative districts in Southern Leyte after the conduct of the May midterm polls.

Under Comelec Resolution 10513 released on March 25, the election of lawmakers for the two congressional districts can no longer be held on May 13, 2019 following the enactment of the Republic Act (RA) 11198.  

Last February, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the RA 11198 which divided the lone district of Southern Leyte into two.

Under the law, the first district shall be composed of the city of Maasin, and the towns of Macrohon, Padre Burgos, Limasawa, Tomas Oppus, Bontoc and Malitbog.

The second district shall be comprised of Sogod, Libagon, Liloan, San Francisco, Pintuyan, San Ricardo, St. Bernard, Anahawan, San Juan, Hinunangan, Hinundayan and Silago.

Comelec said the present configuration of the electoral data for the lone district of the Southern Leyte can no longer be modified.

“The present configuration can no longer be revised or modified in time for the May 13 elections without jeopardizing the preparations for the election of other positions,” the resolution stated.

The poll body said the votes for the said position in the upcoming polls will be considered stray.

“In case the position for member, House of Representatives is voted upon in the May 13 elections, all votes for the said position shall be considered stray,” the commission said.

Comelec noted that the special elections for Southern Leyte Representatives will be conducted within six months after the May 13 polls.

The election in the province for the positions of Senator, Party-list representatives and local elective posts shall proceed as scheduled on May, Comelec said.

“The incumbent Representative of the Lone district of the Province of Southern Leyte, he/she shall continue to represent the legislative district until noon of June 30, 2019,” the resolution said. – Robie de Guzman

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