Armed groups big poll threat—Comelec
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Sunday said that with its use of automated balloting that has deterred cheating, politicians were turning to private armies to influence next year’s polls.
Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said with the dagdag-bawas (vote-padding and -shaving) form of cheating eliminated with the shift to automated elections, it was armed groups in the rural areas that could be used to influence the results of the May 2013 elections.
“In my opinion, the presence of private armed groups in the provinces is one of the crucial problems we will be facing next year,” said Sarmiento in an interview with reporters on Friday.
Earlier, the Philippine National Police (PNP) identified 85 armed groups under the control of politicians in at least 30 provinces. It defined a private armed group as an organized team of two or more that use guns and other weapons to intimidate people for political or economic ends.
Sarmiento said the Comelec had urged the PNP to totally dismantle these groups.
“These groups can tell people not to vote or not to go to polling precincts. They are known to harass and terrorize the people so they won’t vote,” he said. Jocelyn R. Uy