Comelec vows “no more Garci” in Mindanao
This was the vow of elections commissioner Romeo Brawner, who was appointed in
2005 to replace Virgilio Garcillano, the controversial commissioner who
allegedly rigged the elections in Mindanao to favor President Gloria
Brawner said he and two other newly appointed commissioners had been assigned
to Mindanao in this year’s election.
Brawner told reporters Thursday at the Marco Polo they had been going around
Mindanao to meet with elections officials to see to it all are set for the May
Brawner cited the training attended by election officers of Southeastern
Mindanao this week on voting, counting and new election rules.
He said he and commissioners Rene Sarmiento, former deputy Presidential
Adviser on the Peace Process who was named commissioner in April 2006 and
retiredSandiganbayan Associate Justice Nicodemo Ferrer, appointed in June
2006, were assigned to Mindanao to ensure there would be no cheating in
Benjamin Abalos, Comelec chair, assigned Sarmiento to the Autonomous Region in
Muslim Mindanao, covering Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Tawi-Tawi and
Sulu and Marawi City) and Region 9 (the Zamboanga Peninsula);
Brawner is assigned to Regions 11 (Davao del Norte, del Sur and Oriental and
Compostela Valley) and 12 (North and South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan
Kudarat); while Ferrer is assigned to the Caraga region (Agusan del Norte and
del Sur, and Surigao del Norte and del Sur) and Region 10 (Bukidnon, Misamis
Occidental and Oriental, Lanao del Norte and Camiguin).
Brawner acknowledged, however, that intensified clashes between the military
and the New Peoples Army are making the elections more difficult this year.
He said they might be able to call for a ceasefire from both parties just to
ensure peaceful elections, but there has been no move yet.
“After all, it’s a military decision. Once they are subjected to an attack,
there is nothing we from outside can do about it,” he said.
To make response to peace and order concerns in the provinces faster, the
Comelec commissioners decided in a resolution to ask election supervisors to
request police augmentation in areas of immediate concern, instead of
declaring the area under Comelec control.
The presence of the New Peoples Army and historical evidence of election
violence are two of the factors in declaring a town or province election areas
of concerns or immediate concern.
He said it is faster that way than to go through the tedious way of having
Comelec declare the area under its control.
Chief Superintendent Andres Caro II, Davao Regional police director, told the
AFP/PNP Press Corps press conference Thursday that of the region’s 1,440
polling centers, 444 are clusters of precincts and are areas of immediate concern.
But he said they have shortage of police personnel and can only deploy two
officers in every center as they have only a 4,000-police force. (Walter I.