On Monday, an election commissioner reminded local candidates of their role in maintaining peace in their respective areas so that they do not come under the control of the Election Commission (EC).
“I hope that all the local candidates can help us avoid taking control of your respective constituencies.“ Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia said in a recorded video of the signing ceremony of a Kamlak peace treaty in the province of Quizone in the Filipino.
Under the Philippine Constitution and related regulations, Kamlek may have direct control over national and local officials or employees, including law enforcement agencies, during and after the campaign.
Electoral agencies may use the military, police and other government agencies as deputies to ensure peaceful elections in areas considered a serious threat of violence.
Further, the electoral body last week amended its gun ban rules, including authorizing the Kamlek chief to declare constituencies under the agency’s control.
“It’s wrong to think that a Kamlak-controlled area is only against the responsible officials in the province,” Mr Garcia said. “When an area is controlled by Comelec, it is against all candidates.”
He noted that an area under Kamlak’s control could drive investors away.
Mr Garcia further noted that the visit by Kamlek officials did not mean that the site posed a threat to peace and security.
“Just because we’re in a certain place doesn’t mean it’s a chaotic area,” he said at the Quizon event. “That means we want to focus on this area.”
Kamlek Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan said last week that he would use his new authority only on “extreme cases” to lift the gun ban and declare control.
Earlier, Home Secretary Eduardo M. Anno said the Philippine National Police had identified 105 cities and 15 cities as constituencies.
Kamlek spokesman James B. Jimenez said earlier that the agency still had to finalize and verify the list of so-called electoral hotspots.
– John Victor d. Ordonez