By Jeffrey Damicog
A special election for local positions will be held in Jones, Isabela this Monday (May 20) after vote counting machines (VCMs) and ballots there were intentionally burned and destroyed, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Saturday night.
“Special elections will be conducted on 20 May 2019, in Barangay Dicamay 1, Jones, Isabela, as a consequence of the intentional burning of VCMs in that area, on election day,” said Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez.
Jimenez said the Comelec en banc has already issued a resolution for the conduct of the special elections and the designation of a special election board (SEB).
On the other hand, Comelec Director Frances Arabe explained elections for national positions will no longer be held in the area as she assured that this will no longer influence the standings in the senatorial race.
“It will affect the standing of the local candidates that is why there is a need for a special election,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Comelec en banc issued a separate resolution which ordered the municipal board of canvassers (MBOC) to lower the threshold of votes for the national positions in the areas of Barangay Dicamay I in Jones, Isabela as well as Barangay Lumbayao in San Pablo town, Zamboanga del Sur.
In its Resolution No. 10545 dated May 18, the Comelec noted that “uncounted ballots of the following clustered precincts have been deliberately destroyed by unidentified armed groups/individuals and can no longer be reconstituted for purposes of including them in the canvass.”
The poll body cited that in its Resolution No. 10485 dated Jan. 23, 2019 the lowering of the threshold is allowed “when the expected results will no longer affect the results of the election for a particular position, as in this case, the national positions.”
With the lowering of the threshold, the poll body also directed the MBOC in the two towns to “transmit the results for the national positions in their respective Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBOC).”
The Comelec also told the MBOC to “continue with the canvass for municipal positions once the results of the expected clustered precincts have been duly transmitted.”
Meanwhile, police has already arrested two suspects involved in the burning of the VCMs in Jones, Isabela and were identified as Jayson Leano and Rodel Pascual.
The two reportedly stopped last Tuesday the vehicle carrying the VCMs which they set on fire.
On the other hand, investigation still continues on Wednesday’s fire at the Central Elementary School where a stored VCM was burned.