The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said it was not expecting any province, even the usually restive Maguindanao, to be placed under its control during next year’s midterm elections.
In an interview with reporters, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body was anticipating a relatively peaceful election next year, especially in areas previously placed under Comelec control.
The Department of Interior and Local Government has identified 15 provinces as “high risk” areas in the 2013 balloting, but these areas were most likely not going to be placed under the election body’s watch.
These provinces were identified as Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur and Basilan.
In a separate interview, Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento explained that the Comelec would only place a province under its control when there is a “serious armed threat” in the area.
A place can be considered under “serious armed threat” if there is intense political rivalry between or among candidates, political factions or parties, the presence of paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands threatening to disrupt the elections, according to Sarmiento.
In such cases, the Comelec shall take immediate and direct control and supervision over all national and local officials and employees while exercising full control and supervision over all national and local law enforcement agencies as well as military officers and men assigned or deployed in the area. Jocelyn R. Uy