5 Kalinga towns placed under "areas of immediate concern"
by Larry Lopez
TABUK, Kalinga (23 April) -- The Commission on Election (COMELEC) placed five Kalinga towns of Kalinga as areas of immediate concern, COMELEC Provincial Election Supervisor Thomas Uyam bared.
This was reached after a task group in the province evaluated the present peace and order situation over the weekend. The group is composed of representatives from COMELEC, Philippine National Police, Army and private sector.
According to Uyam, the towns of Tinglayan, Lubuagan, Pasil, Pinukpuk and Tanudan, all of Upper Kalinga, shall be under close supervision by COMELEC in the conduct of elections this May 14.
Uyam said a place is declared area of immediate concern when there is intense political rivalry, active insurgency, and armed threats.
In the previous elections, the area has history of election-related violence like snatching of ballots, serious intimidation of Board of Election Inspectors and armed threats, Uyam said.
The recent killing of Vice Gov. Rommel W. Diasen, who was running for Governor in the May polls added political tension in Kalinga. Investigation, though, showed that the killing was more of tribal vendetta.
Uyam clarified there is nothing to be alarmed of under the situation, except that COMELEC just wants to ensure peaceful and orderly election in the area. "This is different from COMELEC control", he said.
When a place is under COMELEC control, all administrative functions of local government units and government agencies shall be taken over by COMELEC. Here, only crucial functions that would ensure clean elections are assumed by the commission, Uyam said.
A Task Force composed of Chairman Benjamin Abalos, who is also Commissioner-In-Charge of CAR, CAR-COMELEC Regional Director Armando Velasco, Kalinga PNP Dir. Severino Cruz and 501st Army IB Commanding Officer shall be formed to supervise the May elections in the province.
The Task Force, without seeking approval from COMELEC En Banc, can perform crucial functions during the conduct of elections that would ensure clean results.
Uyam preferred not to elaborate on those functions to prevent political maneuvers, sensing that dirty tactics are common during elections. (PIA Kalinga) [top]