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Comelec allays concerns over tagging of Mindanao as poll hotspot

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Thursday, March 21st, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday allayed concerns over its decision to declare the whole of Mindanao as a category red election hotspot.

The poll body on Tuesday (March 19) tagged the entire region as poll hotspot in the run-up to the 2019 May Midterm elections due to “serious armed threats” made by the New People’s Army, the Abu Sayyaf Group and other terrorist groups.

READ: Comelec declares entire Mindanao, other areas as 2019 poll hotspots

Some groups have raised concerns that the declaration may lead the Comelec to favor certain candidates in the coming polls. However, the commission assured that this will not happen.

“With regard to the apprehension that this declaration might lead to partisanship by the COMELEC, the election management body reassures the public that this will not happen,” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a statement.

Jimenez said the decision to place the entirety of Mindanao under Comelec control “was the result of consultation with local Comelec officials, as well as the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).”

“While it cannot be gainsaid that there are areas within Mindanao that are relatively peaceful, the inescapable reality is that election-related violent incidents respect no municipal borders; and that the activities of armed groups and terror organizations are not always clearly demarcated,” he explained.

Jimenez also assured that the results reporting procedures of the automated election system will remain transparent and protected.

“The results reporting procedures of the automated election system are fully transparent and protected by multiple redundancies which, by and large, have been proven successful in preventing cheating in the last three automated elections – 2010, 2013, and 2016,” the Comelec official said.

“There is no reason to fear that it will be otherwise in 2019,” he added.

The assurance followed the call of Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin for Comelec to review its decision, claiming that President Rodrigo Duterte only wants to use the poll body “to subvert the electoral process to [ensure] its favored candidates’ victory” in the coming polls.

However, Jimenez stressed that “the Comelec simply seeks to ensure utmost responsiveness to whatever need may arise” when it placed Mindanao under category red. – Robie de Guzman

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DND mulling over lifting of martial law in Mindanao

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) on Tuesday said that evaluations and consultations with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are ongoing regarding the lifting of martial law in Mindanao as soon as possible.

DND Spokesperson Arsenio Andolong made the statement after Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte expressed her desire to lift the martial law in her area of jurisdiction and other places that are relatively peaceful.

“The lifting of martial law in Mindanao is constantly being evaluated by the Defense Department and there are regular consultations with the AFP and PNP regarding this. In fact, we would like to lift martial law in Mindanao as soon as possible but this should only be done after a complete assessment and validation by the security sector and local governments before we recommend it to the President,” he said in a message sent to reporters.

Andolong said the DND takes cognizance of Mayor Duterte’s proposal to only impose martial law in areas where peace and order remain unstable.

“We value the wisdom and firsthand knowledge of our local executives of the prevailing security environment in their respective communities and we always take their observations and recommendations into consideration,” he added.

Andolong noted that in February this year, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told the Supreme Court that the lifting of the military rule would be recommended by July 1 if amendments to the existing Human Security Act were passed in the Legislature.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t happen,” he said.

In a joint session held last December 2018, Congress approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2019.

The military recommended another year-long extension of the martial rule in a bid to totally neutralize terror groups operating in the region.

Martial law was first declared in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 when Islamic State-linked Maute group attacked Marawi City. (with details from Lea Ylagan)

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Comelec says voter registration to resume in August

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Residents search for their names on the voters list

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday that the voter registration for the next election is expected to resume on August 1, 2019 and will run until September 30, 2019.

“Voter registration is expected to run Aug 1 to Sept 30, 2019, inclusive of Saturdays & holidays,”Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a post on Twitter.

Jimenez said approximately two million new voters are expected to register in the said period.

“SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) voters need not register anew upon turning eighteen; their names will automatically be transferred to the regular List of Voters,” he added.

Comelec data showed there were more than 61 million registered voters in the last 2019 May Midterm polls. More than 18 million of the said number are from the youth sector or the so-called Millennials and Generation Z, born in the mid-90s and early 2000s.

The poll body has been urging Filipino voters to go out and exercise their right to suffrage in order to elect honest and deserving officials.

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Youth group files petition in Comelec to disqualify Cardema as youth rep

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Millennials PH, accompanied by Atty. Emil Marañon and Atty. Sixto Brillantes Jr., files petition anew to cancel the substitution bid of ex-NYC Chair Ronald Cardema to become a nominee of Duterte Youth Partylist.

Youth group, Millenials PH, has filed a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to disqualify former National Youth Commission chairperson Ronald Cardema as representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list.

According to Millenials PH, Cardema is already over the age limit to qualify as representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list .

Based on their 17-page petition, Cardema is already 34 years old which is over the set age limit for the party-list representatives of the youth sector which is 25 to 30 years old.

“Makikita na may material misrepresentation talaga na nangyari and ang representation talaga ng Duterte Youth ay youth sector (There really is a material misrepresentation. The representation of the Duterte Youth is the youth sector),” according to Millenials PH Spokesperson Aunell Ross Angcos.

Former Comelec Chairman Atty. Sixto Brillantes Jr., who accompanied the youth group to file the petition said Comelec should withhold Cardema’s certificate of proclamation.

“Dapat matanggal na muna ito at pumalit na ang tunay, iyong legitimate. Kaya kami pumirma rito. Willing kami i-prosecute ito diretso dito sa Comelec hanggang sa Supreme Court kung kailangan (It should be withheld first and should be replaced with the legitimate [representative]. So we signed here. We are willing to prosecute this straight to Comelec up to the Supreme Court if needed),” he said.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon previously said that the Duterte Youth party-list is registered as a youth sector party-list in the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, Cardema defended that Duterte Youth is registered as a party-list group to uplift the youth and professional sector which has no age limit.

Duterte Youth won one seat in Congress. However, five of the party-list nominees withdrew their nomination, including Cardema’s wife, Ducielle Marie Suarez.

The Comelec poll body is currently conducting a hearing for the petition against Cardema.—AAC (with reports from April Cenedoza)

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