Catbalogan City, Samar – The Provincial Elections Supervisor of the Samar province expressed favorably for the province to be under the control of Commission on Elections (COMELEC).
Atty. Butch Beato, Samar election chief, said that he is in favor that the province be put under (COMELEC) control to address the unmitigated election-related violence in the area.
“There are stakeholders which need to be properly consulted and every group must be heard of before making an assessment to declare. For me I am in favor that the province be put under Comelec control because there will be peace of mind since the PNP and AFP will focus and closely monitor particularly those areas that are considered hotspot,” Beato stressed.
In the latest provincial joint security coordinating committee meeting, Beato revealed that there are already validation on the reported threats and intimidation that are occurring in certain upstream barangays.
Samar is included in the “election watchlists areas” considering the previous election-related violence and the presence of private armed groups.
“There are specific areas and personalities involved and have already been identified by the authorities and it’s the responsibility now of the PNP and AFP to enforce the law, to stop violence. Apparently there are private armed groups involved”, Beato said.
A series of violence are happening in some parts of the province even long before the start of the campaign period. Some 24 cases of election-related violence. Killings and intimidation have been recorded by the authorities.
However, the PNP regional director downplayed these incidents as either personal grudges or land disputes.
Recently, Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan asked the Commission on Election (Comelec) to place the whole province under its control and supervision due to the spate of violence.
In her appeal to the Comelec en banc, Tan pointed out that there is an “unprecedented surge in the number of human rights violations, killings and harassment cases meant to thwart the right of the people of Samar to exercise their rights to openly support the candidates of their choice.”
Tan claimed that the incidents of violence were directed at members and supporters of the Nacionalista Party Coalition (NPC), which has an intense rivalry with the ruling Liberal Party (LP).
Beato explained that Samar may be placed under the Comelec control if the requirements can be met. He said that one of the indicators is that if the situation in the area has a widespread violence, a large-scale chaos where the voters are prevented to cast their votes in the precincts.
“Upon a thorough verification in looking at the actual situation, then that’s the time to declare Comelec control,” Beato said.
The Comelec Manila has already sent a memorandum to the Office of the Provincial Election Supervisor to make a comment on the request of Tan to place the entire province under Comelec control.
The Comelec, to include its deputized agencies, PNP and AFP is appealing to all concerned, from voters to candidates, to refrain from doing something that will overturn the result of a peaceful, credible and orderly local and national elections.
Meanwhile, four days to go before the local and national elections, some election officers of Samar are still waiting for the arrival of the vote counting machines (VCMs) for the distribution to the respective municipalities.
Samar provincial election supervisor Atty. Butch Beato said that batches of VCMs have already been delivered specially to the Island-Municipalities.
Samar Province, with 26 municipalities, has 3,382 precincts, 859 voting centers and 490,421 registered voters.