Garcia says Comelec monitoring Socorro amid alleged cult issues
MANILA, Philippines — As the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE) draw near, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said it is monitoring the situation in Socorro in Surigao del Norte, specifically due to the issues involving the alleged cult Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. (SBSI).
Comelec chair George Garcia made the pronouncement after stressing the importance of ensuring every Filipino right to vote.
Garcia said that while the issues have yet to be directly linked to the elections, the poll body is already anticipating certain “eventualities” which may occur due to the issues hounding the SBSI.
“Ang s’amin lang po, sana hindi mapipigilan ang pagboto ng ating mga kababayan magmula sa kung saan sila andoon ngayon, papunta sa kung saan sila bobota … miyembro man sila o hindi noong mismong group (SBSI),” said Garcia in a press conference.
(Our only hope is that the voting of our fellow citizens, wherever they may be now, toward where they will vote, will not be hindered… whether they are members or not of the said group.)
“That’s the reason why the Comelec is closely monitoring the development in Socorro, likewise, ‘yung hearing sa Senado (the Senate hearing),” he added.
Garcia also expressed his wish to discuss the elections with all involved personalities in the situation, even expressing willingness to go to Sorocco himself just to have a dialogue with the involved parties.
“Willing akong makausap sila, upang maipahayag ko ang sentimyento sa Comelec na sana ano man ‘yung issues na nagkalat diyan, sana hindi maapektuhan ang halalan at pagboto ng ating mga kababayan,” said Garcia.
(I am willing to talk to them, so that I can express my sentiments to the Comelec that whatever issues are scattered there, I hope that the election and voting of our countrymen will not be affected.)
“Otherwise the Comelec will have to enforce the law and utilize all the resources and the powers provided for by the Constitution to ensure the right of suffrage is protected,” he added.
The Comelec head also stressed the need to ensure that candidates have the freedom to campaign over the Socorro, to ensure equality between potential nominees.
Meanwhile, Garcia reiterated that so far, no talks of postponement of the BSKE in Socorro have been made, explaining that the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have yet to give such recommendations.
To recall, a complaint has already been filed against leaders of the alleged religious “cult” Socorro Bayanihan Services Inc. before the Provincial Prosecutor’s Office of Surigao del Norte for alleged violation of qualified trafficking, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention, the Act Prohibiting the Practice of Child Marriage, and the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination.
Earlier, the leader of the alleged cult and three of its members were cited in contempt for evading questions during a joint Senate panel investigation.