Comelec allays concerns over tagging of Mindanao as poll hotspot

Robie de Guzman   •   March 21, 2019   •   1486

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday allayed concerns over its decision to declare the whole of Mindanao as a category red election hotspot.

The poll body on Tuesday (March 19) tagged the entire region as poll hotspot in the run-up to the 2019 May Midterm elections due to “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terrorist groups.

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

Some groups have raised concerns that the declaration may lead the Comelec to favor certain candidates in the coming polls. However, the commission assured that this will not happen.

“With regard to the apprehension that this declaration might lead to partisanship by the COMELEC, the election management body reassures the public that this will not happen,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement.

Jimenez said the decision to place the entirety of Mindanao under Comelec control “was the result of consultation with local Comelec officials, as well as the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“While it cannot be gainsaid that there are areas within Mindanao that are relatively peaceful, the inescapable reality is that election-related violent incidents respect no municipal borders; and that the activities of armed groups and terror organizations are not always clearly demarcated,” he explained.

Jimenez also assured that the results reporting procedures of the automated election system will remain transparent and protected.

“The results reporting procedures of the automated election system are fully transparent and protected by multiple redundancies which, by and large, have been proven successful in preventing cheating in the last three automated elections – 2010, 2013, and 2016,” the Comelec official said.

“There is no reason to fear that it will be otherwise in 2019,” he added.

The assurance followed the call of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin for Comelec to review its decision, claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte only wants to use the poll body “to subvert the electoral process to [ensure] its favored candidates’ victory” in the coming polls.

However, Jimenez stressed that “the Comelec simply seeks to ensure utmost responsiveness to whatever need may arise” when it placed Mindanao under category red. – Robie de Guzman

‘Run Sara Run’ banners not considered electoral offense, Comelec says

Robie de Guzman   •   February 26, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Banners and other paraphernalia urging presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte to run in the 2022 national elections are not considered an electoral offense, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez explained that it is not a violation of election laws because it is not election period, and Mayor Sara herself is not a candidate yet.

“Kahit nakapag-file na ng COC (certificate of candidacy) ang tao, kung hindi pa naman nagsisimula ang campaign period, hindi pa siya itinuturing na official candidate. At dahil hindi pa siya official candidate, kahit anong gawin niya, hindi pa siya pwedeng tratuhin bilang kandidato. Ibig sabihin, hindi pa siya pwedeng mag-commit ng election offense,” Jimenez said.

The poll body official said that the banners sprouting in different areas can only be considered as part of freedom of expression.

The campaign period for May 9, 2022 elections will start from February 8 to May 7, 2022.

Sara Duterte earlier thanked her supporters behind the campaign but she reiterated that she has no plans of joining the 2022 presidential polls.

She also urged her supporters to remove the tarpaulins they mounted without permits and to stop staging motorcades and other activities that may violate the health and safety protocols against COVID-19. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Asher Cadapan Jr.)

Comelec launches walkathon event to promote voter registration

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to launch an event that aims to encourage Filipinos to register in the upcoming 2022 National Elections.

The activity entitled, ‘Walkah Walkah: #MagparehistroKa Voter Education Campaign will see Comelec officials and personnel ride and walk for voter registration on February 26.

During the event, motorcycle riders will take off from Palacio del Gobernador in Intramuros, Manila and will proceed to Mindanao Avenue corner Quirino Highway in Quezon City.

From there, Comelec officials including Spokesperson James Jimenez will lead the walkathon towards Gawad Kalinga Village in Quezon City. Other participants include barangay leaders and other election stakeholders.

Participants will hand out flyers to invite the public to register and inform them about the new protocols amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Comelec, meanwhile, assures health and safety protocols will be implemented. There will also be COVID-19 marshalls that will monitor and ensure these protocols are followed.-AAC

Extended hours for voter registration effective Feb. 15

Marje Pelayo   •   February 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Election (Comelec) has extended voter registration hours across the country.

In a statement, the poll body said all its offices will accept registrations from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Tuesdays to Saturdays, including holidays.

The new schedule, which takes effect Monday (February 15) until the end of September this year, aims at encouraging more Filipinos to register and vote in 2022.

“The designated disinfection day will be moved from Fridays to Mondays in addition to daily disinfection measures being conducted,” the agency said on Sunday (February 14).

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