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Police, military to secure grass-roots vote

Constituents of some 42,036 villages across Philippines elect their leaders on Monday

Gulf News

Manila: The armed forces and the police have been placed on alert to secure voters against any threats, as constituents of some 42,036 villages across the country elect their leaders on Monday.

“After a series of planning conferences the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) is all set for Barangay (village council) and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections youth council polls,” AFP spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo in a statement on Sunday.

Millions of Filipinos are expected to elect their choices for barangay chairman, council member as well as youth representatives.

Despite the relatively short preparation period of two months, security officials said they do not see any serious threat to the conduct of the elections on Monday.

“Thus far, there are no serious threats monitored in regard to the conduct of elections. Nonetheless, contingency measures were laid out including the deployment of sufficient number of specially trained and equipped AFP personnel in Commission on Election (Comelec)-identified red areas,” he said in a statement.

During election periods, the Philippine National Police and AFP, as well as thousands of volunteer public school teachers are deputised to the poll administrative body, the Commission on Elections to ensure orderly and organised implementation of the vote.

Soldiers will be deployed to jointly with the police force to man checkpoints in different areas and to provide assistance to the public, prevent any untoward incident, and protect the general public.

Although the smallest governance unit, next only to the family, barangay is the most powerful.

According to Interior and Local Government Undersecretary for Barangay Affairs Martin Diño elected barangay officials from chairman, councillors to the youth representatives, supervise grassroots social services, health and nutrition, waste management, community day care and other activities.

The elected officials also have judicial powers to hear domestic cases as well as local disputes ranging from unpaid debts to oral defamation.

Tanods or village watchmen serve as deputies that enforce village rules.

The government had thrice suspended the conduct of the village polls to ensure that candidates with links to drugs will not have an advantage.

The polls will involve 671,168 elective positions, these include 335,584 posts for councillors, 41,948 for barangay chairmen and 335,584 positions for the youth councils.

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