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PIA Press Release

Comelec optimistic of peaceful elections in Basilan

By Rene V. Carbayas

Isabela City, Basilan (20 April) -- An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Basilan expressed optimism on the coming May 14 election in Basilan with the recent signing of a peace covenant between and among candidates and parties in the province of Basilan last Tuesday.

Election Officer Wifredo Daraug, in an interview, said that the peace covenant was still successfully held at the Farmland Resort, Lanote some three to four kilometers from the Isabela City proper, even though a number of the expected candidates failed to attend. At least some 55 candidates of various positions and parties participated. Only those deputized government agencies were invited to attend and witnessed the signing.

Comelec-designated common poster area in Basilan. (PIA-9)

In the covenant, the candidates commit to uphold the fundamental principle of democracy that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them.

Believing that the exercise of suffrage is a solemn act of sovereignty, the candidates commit to bind themselves to the truth that the ballot is an expression of the sovereign will and sacred.

Specifically, the document also revealed that the candidates have committed not to corrupt the voter with money; and not to impose their will upon the voter by way of force or violence, threat or intimidation or in any manner that would destroy voters' power and freedom of choice.

When asked about the reported allegations of vote buying and intimidations that are being perpetrated by prominent candidates, Daraug explained that these reports and allegations should be supported by a complaint with corresponding witnesses and evidences that would pin down the perpetrator. Otherwise, he said, they will only be hearsay and will bear no weight.

For some concerned citizens, fear still dominates as many opted not to put their complaint in black and white, although these election violations are carried out upfront and in the open.

At the moment, Basilan is not considered as an area of special concern or "hotspot" by the COMELEC, according to Daraug who proudly noted of the sustained peace and order situation in the province.

Moreover, the Comelec in Basilan might still recommend the centralized counting of votes in particular areas, not only for reasons of security of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) but more of facilitating the monitoring of the conduct of elections given the insufficiency of the number of police forces in the province.

Meanwhile, despite the growing pettiness of issues in the political arena, Team Unity continues to outshine its rivals because it has the only solid platform based on good governance, economic growth and sustainability and social payback.

Malacanang said survey ratings cannot ensure an 8-4 opposition victory, saying that it needs expert campaign handling and adequate funding. Most of all, it needs local support to get candidates in the sample ballot. (PIA-BASULTA) [top]

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