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Negros Oriental polls will be successful if the power is stable: Comelec

The Negros Oriental Commission on Elections (Comelec) is pleading with the province’s two electric cooperatives to restore power in regions ravaged by Typhoon Odette last December before the national and local elections on May 9.

On Thursday, lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, the Comelec provincial election supervisor of Negros Oriental, told the Philippine News Agency that power must be restored and stabilized in order for the elections to be held successfully.

“It’s vital to have electricity in the polling centers and in remote areas for the vote-counting machines,” Castillano said in a mix of English and Cebuano. “We’re also hopeful that the power providers would examine their transformers for adequate load distribution to avoid brownouts.”

He pointed out that this election’s voting hours are longer, from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and that while the vote-counting machines (VCMs) have backup power, the batteries will only last for a limited time.

Because the local government lacks the resources to procure power generators, “mag-awhag lang mi sa mga poll watchers ug ubang pang volunteers nga magdala ug flashlights ug emergency lamps (we are urging poll watchers and other volunteers to bring flashlights and emergency lamps) in the event of a brownout,” according to Castillano.

He also added that during a virtual meeting of the Provincial Joint Security Control Center on Friday, officials of the Negros Oriental Electric Cooperative (NORECO) I and II (NORECO II) will be invited to provide updates.

The typhoon impacted the middle and northern regions of Negros Oriental the hardest, leaving several towns and cities without power for two months after it arrived on Dec. 16, 2021.

Although some places have been partially or totally powered, Castillano said he has yet to receive a report on the present situation of the other areas that were severely impacted by “Odette.”

Aside from residential structures, schools and classrooms that will be used for the next elections were also damaged, although the Department of Education has confirmed that repairs are underway.

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