by UNTV News | Posted on Thursday, 21 March 2019 11:32 PM
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.
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
According to PAO-AFP chief Col. Noel Detoyato, the AFP is prepared to provide security in the region for the upcoming elections.
“To address the terrorist group, you can never prepare enough but I can dare say, that our troops are prepared and capable, particularly in Mindanao. We have full cooperation of the local government units,” he said.
Detoyato added that they will conduct re-alignment of troops depending on how much would each provinces in Mindanao need.
They will also have additional checkpoints and mobile patrols to stop the movements of armed groups in Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Butuan, General Santos, Marbel and Tacurong.
Combat operations in Jolo, Basilan, Central Mindanao, parts of Davao, and Surigao will also continue.
“Kahit anong changes we truly have enough troops in Mindanao. We will relocate some groups to address kung ano prevailing security needs na makikita ng Comelec, (No matter what changes, we truly have enough troops in Mindanao. We will relocate some groups to address what are their prevailing security needs seen by Comelec)” Detoyato said.
He added that martial law in Mindanao contributes to the deterrence of dastardly acts by armed rebels and terrorists.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Lea Ylagan)
by UNTV News | Posted on Tuesday, 19 March 2019 09:41 PM
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday (March 19) declared the entire region of Mindanao as an election hotspot ahead of the 2019 Midterm polls.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement the decision developed in the wake of suspected poll-related incidents in the last two elections in the country, and “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army (NPA), the Bangsamoro Freedom Fighters (BIFF), the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and some rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and other similar groups.
Jimenez said the military and police joined the Comelec in identifying Mindanao as a hotspot under Category Red.
Other areas classified as Category Red hotspots are Jones in Isabela; Lope de Vega in Northern Samar and the entire province of Abra.
“The category red may warrant the motu propio declaration of Comelec Control over the affected area,” Jimenez said.
“The Comelec En Banc may direct the augmentation of personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) as the need arises,” he added.
Category Red also refers to areas where relevant government agencies declared the existence of conditions which may constitute grounds for the declaration of Comelec Control.
The PNP, AFP and Comelec follow a system of classification in determining election hotspots: category orange refers to areas where there are serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other similar groups; category yellow refers to areas with history of election-related violence or the existence of intense political rivalry but without the presence of terror groups; while category green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful.
The Midterm elections, set for May 13, 2019, are expected to be participated by more than 60 million registered Filipino voters. – Robie de Guzman
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