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PIA Press Release
2007/05/10

Comelec approves CAFGU absentee voting - Army

by RG Alama

Davao City (10 May) -- The recent absentee voting of about 90 members of the Citizens Armed Forces Geogrpahical Unit (CAFGU) Mayo detachment in Davao Oriental, which was captured on a TV camera and was circulated in the news was an electoral exercise approved by the Comelec.

According to 1001st Brigade Commanding General Brig. General Carlos Holganza, Comelec approval was secured before the CAFGUS were allowed to participate in the absentee voting, as they are anticipated to be on red- alert status in their detachments during election day.

"We anticipated that during the election day, they could not leave their detachments and go to their precincts because of the red-alert status, that is why we asked Comelec approval for them to participate in the absentee voting," Holganza said.

Holganza also said that not all CAFGU applications were approved by Comelec. The 90 CAFGU who were members of the Mayo detachment in Mati, Davao Oriental, were among those approved by the Commission.

Meanwhile in a TV interview, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said that those only allowed to participate in the absentee voting are regular members of the armed Forces of the Philippines.

He said the Commission will investigate if the CAFGUs were indeed eligible to vote in the local absentee voting.

Brig. Gen. Holganza defended the CAFGUs saying that they are part of the Armed Forces and said that the voting was done with Comelec approval.

Capt. Jose Francis del Fuente, Executive Officer of the 10th Civil Military Operations Unit said that the question lies within the Comelec if indeed there was a controversy, because they were the ones who approved it.

"The commander of the 72nd Infantry Battalion (Cadre battalion) which we often call the CAFGU battalion of the 10th Infantry Division anticipated that the CAFGUs cannot leave their detachments because of the alert status so he applied before the Comelec office in Manila that the CAFGUs be allowed to participate in the local absentee voting," Capt. de la Fuente said.

De la Fuente said some applications were approved by the Comelec, while some were disapproved. He said the application were carefully scrutinized by the Comelec "even some of the applications of regular soldiers to participate in the absentee voting were not even approved."

He also said that the CAFGU left the spaces for local candidates blank, as Capt. de la Fuente said the absentee voting only covers votes for senatorial candidates. (PIA XI) [top]

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