12 areas placed under Comelec control in May 9 polls

By Ali G. Macabalang

The province of Misamis Oriental and Pilar town in Abra have been added to the list of areas placed under the control of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) ahead of Monday’s political exercises, bringing to twelve (12) the number of communities to be directly ruled by the poll body.

In his May 4 statement, Comelec Chair Saidamen Pangrarungan said the inclusion of Misamis Oriental in the list was recommended by Joint Security Control Center of Region-X composed of Election Director Francisco Pobe, Major Gen. Wilbur Mamawag of the 4th Infantry Division (4ID) and Major Gen. Generoso Ponio of the Army’s 1st Infantry Division.

The Comelec placed Pilar town under its control on the recommendation of CAR Regional Election Director Ederlino Tabilas and the petition of Mayor Maro Somera, Pangarungan said.

He said the recommendations reaching his office described Pilar, Abra and Misamis Oriental as riddled with election-related violence in the run-up to the May 9 elections.

“The COMELEC will not stand idly by while this is happening…The residents in areas under COMELEC Control should have no apprehension and fear in such a status as the declaration will ensure that there will be clean, honest, peaceful and orderly elections,” Pangarungan said

On motion of Pangarungan, PNP chief General Dionardo Carlos ordered Wednesday the swift relief of all personnel in the Pilar municipal police station due to alleged partisan leanings.

Earlier, the Comelec placed under its control the towns Buluan, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Datu Piang, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Pandag in Maguindanao, and the municipalities of Maguing, Tubaran and Malabang in Lanao del Sur as well as Marawi City.

Under Comelec Resolution 10757, an area may be placed under Comelec control if it has the following traits:

– History of/or current intense rivalry among contending parties. Such rivalries could motivate people to engage in violent acts;

– Incidents of politically-motivated violence involving aspirants/candidates and other supporters;

– Violence may be facilitated by the employment of Private Armed Groups (PAGs); and

– Serious armed threats posed by the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs), and other threat groups including BIFFs, Abu Sayyaf Group, Maute Group, and other analogous threat groups as may be declared by the competent authority.

The PNP previously submitted a list of areas in the country based on the level of threats in connection with the May 9 elections.

Areas were classified into four color-coded categories: green, yellow, orange, and red.

Green areas are considered generally peaceful for the conduct of elections; yellow means “areas of concern” due to reported or suspected election-related incidents in the past two polls amid presence of armed groups, and intense political rivalries; and orange depicts “areas of immediate concern” for recorded presence of armed groups like the New People’s Army that may interrupt the polls.

Red areas meet the parameters for yellow and orange areas, requiring security forces to focus on monitoring these areas with a possibility for violence and intense political fights among local candidates, the PNP said. (AGM)

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