Iloilo City Comelec wary of poll fraud, violence

CHARM OFFENSIVE. Iloilo City’s Mayor Jose Espinosa III greet supporters prior to filing his certificate of candidacy at the Commission on Elections office at the Iloilo Terminal Market yesterday (Oct. 11, 2018) and signing an “integrity pledge” not to resort to cheating or violence. IAN PAUL CORDERO/PN

ILOILO City – As the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in this city starts accepting certificates of candidacy (COC) for the May 13, 2019 midterm elections, it is seeking the commitment of aspiring candidates for fraud- and violence-free polls.

The city Comelec office is requiring COC filers to sign an “integrity pledge” that read in part: “I sign this Integrity Pledge for free, orderly, honest, peaceful, and credible elections, and through my words and actions, commit to abide by the tenets of our Constitution, election law, rules and regulations, respecting the sanctity of our electoral exercise.”

The first to make the pledge yesterday – the first day of the five-day period for COC filing – was Mayor Jose Espinosa III and his line-up, according to Atty. Rainier Layson, city election officer.

“I will not employ any form of violence, force, or threat that may impair, impede or unduly influence the free exercise of the people’s right to suffrage,” part of the pledge further read.

The city Comelec office started receiving COCs at 8 a.m. yesterday. The first day of filing wrapped up at 5 p.m., said Layson.

“I will ensure the prompt and accurate, reporting and disclosure of campaign-related expenses. I will not offer or give bribes or gifts to corrupt the integrity of our democratic process,” read another part of the pledge.

Smooth and generally peaceful was how Layson described the first day of COC filing.

Espinosa and his line-up under the Nacionalista Party showed up at the city Comelec office at around 7:30 a.m., filed their COCs then signed the Integrity Pledge. Espinosa was with former city councilor Perla Zulueta (his candidate for congresswoman), Councilor R Leone Gerochi (running mate for vice mayor), and reelectionist councillors Eduardo Peñaredondo, Candice Magdalene Tupas, Mandrie Malabor, Lyndon Acap, and Leizl Zulueta-Salazar. Also with them was former councilor Rodel Fullon-Agado.

Layson said the camp of Cong. Jerry Treñas who is running for mayor under the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino – Lakas ng Bayan wanted to file their COCs yesterday, too, but agreed to reschedule it to Oct. 17, the last day of filing.

“Indi ko gusto mag abtanay ang duha ka kampo. As much as possible we want magkadto sila diri maiwasan ang gamo and disorder para maging efficient, orderly and convenient ang pag-file sang ila COCs,” Layson explained.

The election officer said he also learned that the camp of Dr. Pacita Gonzalez (wife of the late congressman and Justice secretary Raul Gonzalez Sr.) and councilors Joshua Alim and Plaridel Nava may also file their COCs on Oct. 17.

COCs should be filed in five copies by the aspirant or through a duly authorized representative.

The COC should also be sworn to before a notary public or any official authorized to administer an oath, except Comelec officials and employees.

COCs filed by mail, email, or fax won’t be accepted.

There is no filing fee but a P30 documentary stamp should be attached to the original copy of the COC./PN

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