Comelec wants to place Daraga under its control amid Albay killings
MANILA, Philippines—Following the killing of Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it is considering to place the municipality of Daraga, Albay under Comelec control.
Comelec said that their statement came after local poll officials “recommended this course of action” in light of the assassination of Batocabe last December 22, as well as the two unidentified victims that were found dead in the same municipality a day after the congressman was killed.
“The perpetrators of these crimes remain at large, contributing to the atmosphere of fear in the municipality,” Comelec said on Thursday.
It noted that its local officials have expressed concern that “this might exacerbate current intense political rivalries in the area, leading to further violent incidents.”
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez added that “such a situation could conceivably undermine the conduct of peaceful and credible elections” in May 2019.
The Comelec said that the recommendation of the local Comelec officials to place Daraga, Albay under Comelec control “will be immediately taken up by the Commission en banc.”
The Commission en banc, according to the Comelec, will also take into consideration the reports and assessments filed by the Philippine National Police during its investigation of the murder cases.
The Comelec said that once approved by the Commission en banc, Comelec control in Daraga will take effect on January 13, or the start of the election period as requested.
“The Commission en banc may, however, set the effectivity to any date which it deems appropriate,” it added.
The Comelec noted that under the law, it “may place any political subdivision under its immediate and direct control and supervision if, among other things, there is a history of—or current—intense political rivalry among contending parties,” noting that such rivalries “could motivate people to engage in violent acts.” /jpv
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