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Comelec allays concerns over declaration of Mindanao as poll hotspot

/ 05:38 PM March 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday allayed concerns that the declaration of the entire Mindanao as an election hotspot may lead to the poll body favoring certain candidates in the May polls.

“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.

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

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao an election hotspot

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This assurance followed the call of an opposition lawmaker for the Comelec to review its declaration.

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said President Rodrigo Duterte wants “to dictate the outcome of the May elections.”

READ: Lawmaker sees Palace strategy in Mindanao ‘hot spot’ tag

Villarin claimed that the administration is using the poll body “to subvert the electoral process to [ensure] its favored candidates’ victory in the national and local elections.”

However, Jimenez stressed that the Comelec “simply seeks to ensure utmost responsiveness to whatever need may arise,” when it declared the entire Mindanao as an election hotspot.

“While it cannot be said 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 said.

Last Tuesday, the Comelec declared the whole region of Mindanao as an election hotspot.

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This after “serious armed threats” made by members of the New People’s Army, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and some rogue elements of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, and other similar groups.

Other areas declared as hotspots are the towns of Jones in Isabela and Lope de Vega in Northern Samar and the entire province of Abra. /ee

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TAGS: Comelec, Election Hotspot, Mindanao, Philippine News
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