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Comelec cool to placing BARMM under control for parliament polls

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not keen on placing the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) under “Comelec control” for its first parliament polls, which coincides with next year’s midterm elections.

“We will act accordingly based on the developments. When there is disorder, it is not always necessary to declare Comelec control. We will need to see the level of disorder first, the level of irregularities in an area before placing it under Comelec control,” Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said in an interview on the sidelines of Monday’s BARMM Multiparty Democracy Summit held at the poll body’s office in Intramuros, Manila.

He noted that they are cautious in placing an area under their control.

“There is an automatic stigma on the communities when it gets placed under Comelec control,” Garcia said.

At the same time, he urged the Bangsamoro people to help them ensure that next year’s parliament polls would be peaceful and orderly.

“Let us avoid irregularities like vote buying, violence, terrorism, arson, or intimidation of the public. The people of Bangsamoro deserve to have peaceful and orderly elections,” the Comelec chief said.

Garcia also warned those who plan to disrupt the polls.

“Do not test the patience of the Commission on Elections. We will never hesitate to use the full powers of the Comelec under the Constitution just to ensure that no lives are sacrificed and that everyone will be able to vote,” he added.

Past elections in the BARMM were marred by violence, intimidation, and irregularities.

Under Comelec Resolution 10757, any political division, subdivision, unit, or area may be placed under Comelec control when the peace and order situation in the area may affect the conduct of polls.

For areas to be declared under Comelec control, these must have a history of or current intense rivalry among the contending parties or incidence of politically-motivated violence involving aspirants/candidates and/or their supporters.

Other factors that may prompt the placing of an area under Comelec control are the presence of violence perpetrated by private armed groups; and the presence of serious armed threats posed by the communist rebels and/or other threat groups, such as the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, the Abu Sayyaf Group, and the Maute Group. (PNA)

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