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Comelec-12 eyes November special polls for 2 SoCot districts

June 19, 2019 - Wednesday 6:06 PM by PNA

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GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Region 12 is targeting the conduct of special elections in November for the first and third legislative districts of South Cotabato.

Lawyer Rafael Dinopol, Comelec-12 spokesperson, said Wednesday they have started the initial preparations for the special elections, which will cover this city and three municipalities in South Cotabato.

He said the Comelec central office has yet to decide on the exact date of the polls but noted that they are expecting it to be held sometime in November.

"We are still waiting for the schedule of the special elections and we're hoping that it will be finalized in the upcoming management committee meeting," he said in a radio interview.

The special elections are in line with the approval last March of Republic Act 11243, which reapportioned the first district of South Cotabato and established the city as the province’s third district.

The first district, which previously included the city, is now composed of the municipalities of Polomolok, Tupi, and Tampakan.

The Comelec en banc, through Resolution 10524 or the IRR issued last April 11, postponed the election for the first district representative last May 13 and set the first regular election for the representatives of the two districts within six months.

Lawyer Michael Abas, Comelec-12 regional director, said they are pushing for the opening in August of the voter's registration for the planned special elections.

He said they are also hoping that the conduct of the polls will still be automated, citing that it would be difficult for them if it is reverted to the manual system.

As in the regular elections, he said they will schedule anew the filing of certificates of candidacy (COC) for the aspirants.

"This is interesting because we just conducted the midterm elections and here we are preparing for another election. It's also exciting since I heard that many personalities are interested to run," he said.

Four aspirants filed their COCs and briefly campaigned for the first congressional district seat before it was suspended by the Comelec.

These were outgoing city vice mayor Shirlyn Banas-Nograles of the PDP-Laban, former Davao City Councilor Menchie Dinopol-Cataluna (Independent), former city councilor Arturo Cloma (Nationalist People's Coalition), and Abelardo Plaza (Independent).

The vice mayor's camp protested the poll suspension and filed a petition for “Certiorari with Urgent Prayer for Issuance of a Status Quo Ante Order” at the Supreme Court but no decision came out before the election day last May 13.

Nograles topped the polls with a total of 194,929 votes but Comelec declared them as "stray votes" by virtue of its previous suspension.