Negros Oriental under Comelec control to ensure peace, order during election
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been given the full authority to oversee and supervise the peace and security situation in Negros Oriental for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections 2023.
This was according to Police Lieutenant Colonel Gerard Ace Pelare, the spokesperson of Police Brigadier General Anthony Aberin, director of the Police Regional Office Central Visayas (PRO-7).
“We have received the advice from the Comelec that the election sa (in) Negros magpadayon (will continue), sa (in) Negros Oriental, as scheduled. But the area will be placed under Comelec control,” he said.
NegOr under Comelec control a precautionary measure
Based on the ruling issued by the Comelec en banc, the elections in the province will commence simultaneously as the rest of the country on October 30, 2023.
However, Pelare clarified that placing it under Comelec control would simply be a precautionary measure and not because of alarm.
“Ang kani man gung lugar nga mabutang sa Comelec control, ang primary consideration ani is ang peace and order sa usa ka area moposible nga maka-apekto sa resulta sa eleksyon. So mao nang gibutang na siya sa Comelec control. But everything is being taken care of,” said Pelare.
(This area that are placed under Comelec control, the primary consideration is the peace and order of an area that can possibly affect the results of the election. So it is placed under Comelec control. But everything is being taken care of.)
Crime down in Negros Oriental province
According to Pelare, the crime statistics in the province have decreased significantly in recent times and that this move is only to make sure that peace will be maintained.
He said that the Philippine National Police (PNP), along with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), have also conducted several police operations in the province that had lead to the apprehension of members of private armed groups.
Tracker teams have also been deployed on the ground to continue their search for criminals in the area, according to Pelare.
Furthermore, Pelare said that by placing Negros Oriental under Comelec control, the agency will be directly supervising over all national and local agencies in the area during the election season.
He said that the agency would also be given full control over law enforcement agencies in maintaining the peace and security in the area.
Pelare said that their police personnel would be following the instructions given by the Comission in order to ensure everyone’s safety.
Pelare also assured the public, especially residents of Negros Oriental, that they would be working closely with the other government agencies to secure the upcoming elections.
Security measures in Negros Oriental
“On the other hand, this should assure the people of Negros Oriental nga ang (that the) government is taking concrete steps nga wala gyuy kasamok nga mahitabo didto (that no trouble would happen there),” he said.
According to Pelare, among the security measures to be implemented in the area are increased police visibility and checkpoints specially in entrance and exit points in the province.
He said that they had initially a total of 12,000 personnel to be deployed in the whole region.
He also said that it would be up to the Comelec to decide whether there would be a need to also deploy police personnel from different provinces in the Negros Oriental.
“But makita ninyo in the coming days, upon the assessment of the Comelec, possible nga naay tay additional forces,” he said.
(But you can see in the coming days, upon assessment of the Comelec, it would be possible for additional forces.)
Cops ready to help
According to Pelare, if the Comelec asks for help from other provinces in Central Visayas, they will be ready to adjust deployment of police officers for the election.
“Ang atong mga pulis sa nagkalain-laing probinsya ug syudad sa Central Visayas, they are always ready. And we are flexible nga every time (there is an) election, naa gyuy dakong posibilidad nga naay from other provinces matransfer sa laing provinces depending upon sa mga priority areas,” he said.
(Our policemen in the different provinces and cities of Central Visayas, they are always ready. And we are flexible about that every time (there is an) election, there is a big possibility that there will be policemen from other provinces transferring to other provinces, depending on the priority areas.)
Pelare also said that the PNP had a policy on police officers that had relatives running for government positions in the area they would be deployed in during the election season.
Police transfer, preemptive measure
He said that if officers that were immediate or up to second degree family members of a candidate, they would be moved to work somewhere else as a preemptive measure.
“So kung ingon ana ang imong affiliation, ibalhin ka preemptively. Not because naa kay gihimo diha nga nilaban ka sa imong paryente but dili ta ganahan nga ang perception sa tawo, naay possible bias,” he said.
(So if your affiliation is like that, you will be transferred preemptively. Not because you have done something to defend your relative, but we do not want the perception of the people, that there is a possible bias.)
Comelec, PNP, AFP ready for election
Meanwhile, Lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, regional director of the Commission on Elections-Central Visayas (Comelec 7), assured that the authorities would be ready for the upcoming elections.
“Rest assured, your PNP, AFP, and Comelec will be ready for this election. We will be more empowered that the Negros Oriental is now in Comelec control. But the reason for placing the Comelec control in Negros Oriental is just a preemptive measure that no untoward incident will disrupt the holding of free and orderly elections in Negros Oriental,” he said.
Castillano said that to ensure that no threats would be made to the elections this year, they would be placing security measures and deploying personnel of the PNP and AFP in the province for strict security.
He also said that with the resolution, Comelec would have the authority to choose the commanding offices for any areas under their supervision if it would be necessary.
Castillano said that they would be continuously preparing for the upcoming elections and they had started the training of individuals who would be assisting during Election Day.
According to Castillano, there are more than 102,000 candidates in Central Visayas for the BSKE this year per their record.
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