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BSKE 2023 'a victory of sorts' but Comelec says no election perfect

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Garcia at the end of the voting declared the barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections (BSKE 2023) "a victory of sorts" even as he said no election had ever been perfect.

Garcia made the remark amid reports of election-related violence killing at least three in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, and thousands of teachers backing out of poll duty in the BARMM and in Abra.

“When you say generally peaceful when you say incidents, we have to factor in the number of voters involved. We have 92 million registered voters. Of this number, how many are affected? We have 202,000 precincts," Garcia said at a news conference.

"Even if there were disruptions in 2,000 precincts, we would still have 200,000 precincts where voting proceeded as expected. There was only a small percentage where disruption occurred. To us, it is a victory of sorts,” he added.

Garcia said there was "no perfect election," citing the incidents of missing names on the voters' lists, violence, injuries, and deaths.

"Laging mayroong ganyan. What is important is perpetrators are punished. Hindi puedeng paligtasin,” Garcia added.

(There will always be these things. What is important is perpetrators are punished. They should not be spared from accountability.)

The Philippine National Police in the BARMM told Super Radyo dzBB that at least three persons were killed while eight others were injured in cases of election violence in the region. 

The BARMM deaths were on top of the few incidents including the tearing of ballots in Palawan, a physical confrontation in Lanao del Norte, and teachers suddenly backing out of their voluntary poll duty in the Bangsamoro Region and in Abra, among others.

Over 2,500 teachers in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) suddenly backed out of their voluntary poll duties for the 2023 barangay and sangguniang kabataan elections (BKSE), Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman George Garcia said.

“Almost 2,530 sa Bangsamoro na mga guro na hindi nag serve. Ang nakakalungkot, biglang may nag back out na ilan na guro, for whatever reason,” Garcia said.

(There were 2,530 teachers in BARMM who did not do poll duty. It is sad that there were teachers who backed out, for whatever reason.)

Asked why the teachers withdrew as Board of Election Inspectors, Garcia cited the teachers’ previous experience of shooting incidents or being threatened for their poll work.

“Iyong karanasan nila dati na may putukan, baka ganito ulit ang mangyari ngayon. Mayroong nagkaputukan, may namatay kaninang umaga, nagkabarilan...unfortunately,” Garcia said.

(They have experienced shootings, threats and feared that it would again be the same. There were shooting incidents and there were those who were killed this morning unfortulately.)

Garcia said some  teachers tried to change their minds and return to their election work but the Comelec did not tolerate such indecisiveness.

“The fact na may gusto bumalik, napansin nila na mukhang tahimik ang pagcoconduct ng eleksyon at napaghandaan,” Garcia said.

(The fact that there were those who wanted to go back showed that they themselves were convinced that they wouldn't have the same experience this time.)

Comelec Commissioner Ernesto Ferdinand Maceda, Jr. said there was no incident of vote buying on Election Day.

Maceda, in the same news conference, said that all of the 168 reports of vote buying had been reported to the poll body prior to the day of the elections.

“Of the 168 reports. 28 cases have been filed prior to the end of today’s elections. Forty-six are expected to be filed anytime today. We are also evaluating for further evidence on 94. This is a huge achievement given that we received 1,200 vote-buying complaints during the 2022 national polls,” Maceda said.

“We have heard stories of vote buying today, but none of them formalized it. We have not received a formal complaint as of today. You can draw conclusions from that, but we see this as a positive and encouraging sign that our efforts have borne fruit,” he added. —NB, GMA Integrated News

Follow GMA News Online's live updates of the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE 2023) here.