The newly created Special Task Force Negros Oriental approved a resolution on Wednesday, October 25, imposing a province-wide curfew two days before the October 30 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections to avert violence and prevent vote buying.
Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, Commission on Elections (Comelec) regional election director for Central Visayas, said the curfew would take effect from 10 p.m. on Saturday to 4 a.m. on Sunday, and again from 10 p.m. on Sunday to 4 a.m. on Monday, election day.
Castillano said they decided not to impose a curfew earlier than October 28 to give candidates more time to campaign.
“The curfew is to prevent vote buying, threat, and intimidation of force against votes and candidates, but we are not imposing it earlier as we do not want to impede the candidates’ rights to campaign,” he said.
The curfew will affect all ages but with certain exemptions, Castillano said.
Exempted from the curfew are those who work at call centers, law enforcers, and other authorities and individuals whose services are required at any given time, he said.
These individuals will have to present proof that they are working during the curfew hours, as security forces will be on hand for verification, he added.
Curfew violators will be detained and released at 5 a.m. the following day.
Castillano, who heads the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC) in Central Visayas, attended the provincial JSCC meeting at the Negros Oriental Police Provincial Office on Wednesday to discuss the operational plan and guidelines on the Comelec-controlled status of the province.
The RJSCC converted itself into the Special Task Force Negros Oriental and placed its provincial counterpart, headed by lawyer Eliseo Labaria, the acting provincial election officer, in charge of operations.
Officials of the Philippine National Police, Philippine Army, Coast Guard, and Bureau of Fire Protection, as well as election officers, have raised their concerns, mostly on security, for the coming BSKE.
Castillano said there were minor adjustments made as the security contingency plan was already approved earlier.
Negros Oriental was placed under Comelec control in August to ensure the conduct of safe, peaceful, and orderly elections and prevent violence after the March 4 assassination of Governor Roel Degamo.*PNA