Lanao del Norte town ‘under Comelec control’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Lanao del Norte town ‘under Comelec control’
This ensures 'that voters will not be discouraged from voting' because of armed groups, says Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Rowena Guanzon on Tuesday, April 26, said the poll body has placed the town of Pantar in Lanao del Norte “under Comelec control.”

This means Pantar is now under the poll body’s “immediate and direct control and supervision” because of violence and “serious armed threats,” among other things.

“This is to ensure that voters are not disenfranchised, that voters will not be discouraged from voting because of these armed groups,” Guanzon said in an interview with reporters Tuesday evening.

Promulgated on March 10, Comelec Resolution 10074 states that the Comelec has the following powers:

  • “Take immediate and direct control and supervision over all national and local officials and employees required by law to perform duties and/or comply with certain prohibitions relative to the conduct of the elections” in the area concerned
  • “Exercise full control and supervision over all national and local law enforcement agencies as well as military officers and men assigned or deployed” in the area concerned

Guanzon explained that under this set-up, the Comelec has the power, for example, to “take over the administrative control of disbursement of public funds.”

She said the election officers “will be assigned to represent the commission in these areas under Comelec control.”

For the 2016 elections, the possible recurrence of armed clashes between rival political camps was already a problem as early as October 2015.

Clans have usually fought for control of various towns in the two Lanao provinces. 

Guanzon said the Comelec is also considering placing Marawi and Northern Samar under its control. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.