Sunday, October 12, 2014

Comelec scraps national goodwill games in Albay
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Oct. 10 (PNA) -- The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has cancelled the scheduled national goodwill games it had set on November 28 to December 2 due to Mayon volcano’s continuing unrest.

Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. officially informed its field offices in Bicol and other parts of the country about the cancellation of the scheduled event here because of the impending eruption of Mayon, which has been restless for 25 days now.

The Comelec goodwill games were supposed to include ball games, "Laro ng Lahi", fun run dubbed as Validate-to-Vote (V2V), and triathlon, among others, to be played by the poll body's officials and personnel coming from their different field offices across the country and estimated to reach up to 4,000 people.

As a result, Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda appealed for the Comelec not to cancel the event, saying the impending volcano eruption will not compromise the safety of the people as well as the goodwill games of the commission.

“Even when the volcano erupts, it will not reach beyond the six-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone. It will be contained within the 6-km-radius PDZ, so it will not compromise the safety of the participants to the goodwill games,” Salceda said.

He added, “This is an urgent appeal to Hon. Chairman Sixto Brilliantes Jr. to please reconsider the cancellation of the National Goodwill Games. Since its first recorded eruption in 1616, Mayon's lava never went beyond 6-km-radius PDZ; pyroclastic flows never went beyond 6-8km PDZ; ashfall direction towards northwest since inception; and Legazpi airport never had a no-fly situation in its entire history due to volcanic activity."

In fact, he said, there exists no aircraft pattern in the Legazpi airport in relation to the volcano or its activity.

Salceda explained that Cagsawa is 10 kms away, airport is 12 kms away, Hotel Oriental is 15 kms away, while the capitol is 13 kms away from the Mayon Volcano.

“For as long as people have been evacuated and, therefore, no people inside the 6-km PDZ and they are constantly served, a Mayon eruption is actually a geological event and the biggest touristic event of the Philippines in 2014. We have invested heavily on the safety in our bid to become the tourism capital of Luzon south of Manila," the governor said.

Thus, he said, the provincial government can assure the safety of all of Comelec participants.

"I appeal for your understanding of this urgent appeal since we, as disaster authorities, were not at all consulted nor notified prior to the public release on the cancellation,” Salceda said.

Lawyer Romeo Serrano, Albay election supervisor, explained though that the decision to scrap the hosting of the event in Legazpi City was not only due to the impending eruption of Mayon, but also to avoid public perception that Comelec is not sensitive to the plight of the over 50,000 evacuees who are very worrisome of the prevailing natural calamity.

Serrano said they might not have scrapped the event had it been a conference and not games.

He said the commission is more concerned with what Albayanos would feel should they continue the goodwill games while they are so worried about the impending eruption than the possible inconveniences that the eruption would bring to their visitors. (PNA) LAP/FGS/RBB/CBD/sgp