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Comelec-ARMM names areas of immediate concern, creates special BIEs

 • 19:04 PM Tue Apr 26, 2016
Ferdinandh Cabrera
Ensuring SAFE 2016, members of the ARMM Regional Joint Security Control Center meet Monday at 6th ID headquarters. (Ferdinandh Cabrera)

Maguindanao – The Commission on Elections in the Autonomous Region
in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) along with its deputies has decided to deploy Special
Board of Election Inspectors (SBEI) to serve towns identified as areas of
immediate concern” in the region come election day.

In a coordinating conference Monday, police
and military officials comprising the Regional Joint Security Control Center (RJSCC),
including representatives from election watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for
Responsible Voting (PPCRV), agreed the creation of SBEI after about a dozen towns
were classified as hot spot.”

The presence of private armed groups,
intense political rivalry and history of violence in previous balloting were
considered by the RJSCC in coming up with a list of so called hot spot areas.”

In some cases, security officials
said, BEI members opted to shy away due to threats from some candidates or their
supporters and for having blood relationship with the political aspirants.

Among thoe towns mentioned where
violence is likely to happen are the municipalities of Tugaya, Butig, Sultan
Dumalondong and Masiu in Lanao del Sur.

In Maguindanao,
security officials are closely watching also the towns of Sultan sa Barongis,
General Salipada K. Pendatun, and Datu Salibo.

In Basilan,
Tipo2x and Al Barka are mentioned and in Sulu, they have the towns of Pata,
Panglima Estino and Lugus.

No areas of
immediate concern in Tawi-Tawi.

ARMM police office also asked the poll
body to request from Comelec-main office the deployment of additional 200 to
300 troops to serve as Quick Response Force (QRF) or will assist as Board of
Inspectors (BEI’s).

We have asked
from the Comelec to augment us with additional force to assist as Board of
Election Inspectors,” Senior Superintendent Antonio Gardiola Jr., PNP-ARMM deputy
regional head, said, adding the augmentation will be trained to perform poll

During the conference, Brig. Gen.
Glenn Macasero, Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) deputy commander chair of
Coordinating Committee of the Cessation of the Hostilities (CCCH) head, said
the CCCH has signed a mutual understanding with the Moro Islamic Liberation
Front for a pre-coordinated presence of troops which are expected to be
deployed in rebel controlled areas.

There is massive
deployment of our troops to help secure the election thus we have coordinated
with the MILF to avoid misinterpretations and mis-encounter,” said Macasero.

Lt. Col. Audie
Edralin, the commanding officer of 7th Infantry Battalion whose unit also
covers part of Maguindanao raised a very important issue. He said some armed
men known in the communities as MILF members but served as armed group of
political aspirants.

We observe rival candidates have supporters
of these armed men affiliated with the rebel group, can we say they are now
lawless and engage them without jeopardizing the peace agreement?” he asked the
panel in the forum.

Lawyer Michael
Abas, Comelec-ARMM regional director replied by sayingand The rule of law must
prevail, you can respond provided the procedure is in place with CCCH and file
charges for violators,” he said.

Force Central (JTF) and 6th Division Commander Major General Edmundo Pangilinan
stressed that the peace agreement between the government and the MILF does not
prevent them from performing their mandate.

Just follow
the mechanism and you will not go wrong, the credibility of the security sector
has a very crucial role in this democratic practice,” he said.

admitted that some armed men in the borders of Maguindanao and North Cotabato
have been observed in interior villages.

We want to prevent these armed men
from getting closer to the polling precinct on election day and disrupt the
process,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Arnel dela Vega, 6th
ID deputy commander, said the security sector is concerned about the possible
sabotage while the Vote Counting Machines are transported to the polling prescient.

The PPCRV is closely monitoring the
movement of all VCM in the region. This is what we want to work out with our
counterparts in PPCRV,” Dela Vega said.

Abas also
appealed to all political parties, including the PPCRV to be part of the
inventory as soon as the machines will arrive in May 2 to erase any doubt and
have the chance scrutinize the ballots and machines to be used on Election Day.
(Ferdinandh Cabrera)

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