MALITA, Davao Occidental, May 10 (PIA) – Voters in the five municipalities comprising Davao Occidental province, have elected on Monday their first set of government officials as a newly-created province.
The candidates for the key positions sought by incumbent Davao del Sur governor Claude Bautista, last termer 2nd District Congressman Franklin Bautista and neophyte politician Lorna Bautista-Bandigan are sure winners as they were lone aspirants respectively for the governorship, vice-governorship and congressional seats in the 2016 Elections.
The tough competition came from among the contenders for the seats in the Provincial Council for the first and second districts.
The Davao Occidental provincial Commission on Election though has yet to finish the canvassing of ballots as of this writing, and is expected to declare the winners on May 11.
Carved out from the second district of Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental became the 81st and newest province in the country in 2013 by virtue of Republic Act 10360.
The province covers the municipalities of Sta. Maria, Malita, Don Marcelino, Jose Abad Santos and Sarangani, with Malita being the capital town. The province has a total of 105 barangays.
For the 2016 election, the Comelec has registered a total of 158,519 voters, with 130 voting centers and 1,180 established precincts.
In an earlier interview in Malita, Congressman Bautista said that immediately after the new set of officials have assumed into office, all necessary preparations will be undertaken for the operational set up of the province.
Hiring of the provincial capitol personnel will be among the first steps to make, he said, adding that an Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) of around P400 million has been set by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the province for the next six months (July-December 2016).
Meanwhile, the conduct of the 2016 National and Local Elections has been generally peaceful in Davao del Sur and Davao Occidental since the start of the campaign period up to this writing when transmission of election returns from polling precincts and canvassing of ballots at the municipal and provincial Board of Canvassers are ongoing, expectedly.
Davao del Sur Provincial Police Director PSSUPT Dario Gunabe, who was also overseeing the Provincial Election Monitoring Action Center at the Davao del Sur Coliseum, said the election was orderly and peaceful though with delays due to some Vote Counting Machines which malfunctioned.
Gunabe said 67 polling precincts affected by the malfunction of VCMs in Davao del Sur were allowed an extension of voting hours beyond 5:00pm as the closing time of the casting of votes.
In Davao Occidental, 11 polling precincts also extended voting time due to the same cause of delay.
Davao Occidental Election supervisor Atty. Ma. Febes Barlaan said the minor glitch caused by some defective VCMs had been promptly addressed to, saying that her office has ample contingency to replace malfunctioning machines.
In fact, Barlaan said, her office was able to lend spare VCMs to Davao del Sur.
The transmittal of election returns was expected to begin by 11pm yesterday, but Barlaan said some polling centers especially from remote barangays mostly from Jose Abad Santos will have to immediately transmit the ERs manually to the Municipal Board of Canvassers.
The Comelec official expected that canvassing of election returns will be completed today (May 10) at the Provincial Board of Canvassers, and was hopeful to be able to declare winners by May 11 (Wednesday).