Nalzaro: Placing Cebu City under Comelec control


THE “former political has-been” had asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to place Cebu City under its control, citing recent incidents in the mountain barangays where his supporters, especially barangay captains, were harassed by armed men. He tagged police as behind the series of attacks, the latest of which was the burning of an old and dilapidated hauling truck owned by a barangay captain.

In his press conference the other day, the “former political has-been” warned Cebuanos that the current situation might get worse in the coming days. Some City Hall employees were intimidated by uniformed armed men and unknown individuals. Things have escalated, he said.

“There is terrorism with the police. This is a clear manifestation of a martial law. We have to make our stand. I will be ashamed to the Cebuanos if I don’t,” he said.

What terrorism and martial law is he talking about? I think this guy has become paranoid. Is he suffering from mental illness? Why he does he have a phobia of the police? Is he anticipating the repercussions of the situation because using the police to terrorize voters was his handiwork during past elections?

Placing an area under Comelec control is a tedious process. There are criteria to follow. The justification he cited in his request to the Comelec did not warrant the poll body’s action. It should have been dismissed outright. Besides, I don’t think the Comelec en banc has time to deliberate it. But I suspect he has a hidden agenda why he wants to place Cebu City under Comelec control.

According to Comelec Resolution 3618, the poll body can only place an area under its control “when any political division, subdivision, unit or area, circumstances such as intense political rivalry between or among candidates, political factions or parties, or the presence of paramilitary forces, private armies or identifiable armed bands widely perceived to have committed terrorism, fraud or other election irregularities in the past electoral exercises or other analogous circumstances, threaten or tend to disrupt the holding of free, peaceful, honest, orderly and credible elections, the Commission may place such political division,subdivision, unit or area under its immediate and direct control.”

Powers and functions of the Commission--”This stand-by authority shall be exercised by the Commission sitting en banc as the need arises. The Commission shall 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 political division, subdivision, area or unit concerned. Exercise full control and supervisionover all national and local law enforcement agencies as well as military officers and men assigned or deployed in the area concerned.”

The other provision, which I think the “former political has-been” wants to happen is this: “When necessary, to substitute a whole unit of the police force assigned in the locality concerned with another police unit or with adequate unit of the Armed Forces of the Philippines or to relieve any police or military officer or personnel who may be found unsuitable for the continuance in his present assignment in the locality concerned as peace and order condition in the locality demands.”

Basically, his agenda is to have Cebu City Police Office Director Royina Garma replaced. But it was not proven if the incidents he cited were election-related. To have the city placed under Comelec control, the police and the military would have to be consulted as this has something to do with peace and order. And the police have already said “the city is peaceful. “


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