The Commission on Elections (Comelec) won’t place Bogo City and the rest of the towns in Cebu’s 4th district under its control for now.
Comelec Provincial Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano told Cebu Daily News last Friday that placing an area under Comelec control is considered a last resort.
“It is the Comelec en banc who will make the decision and the creation of the special task force who will oversee the Comelec controlled area,” he said.
Last week, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said based on their assessment of the current situation, Bogo City and the rest of the fourth district won’t be placed under Comelec control.
On the reported presence of armed groups in the 4th district, Castillano said it’s within the jurisdiction of the police and the military to address.
“The military and the police are in charge of dismantling private armed groups… Layo pa ang election, gitrabaho nana. Mag-election ta nga dili ta moabot anang puntoha. It is not good for the country, the Comelec, and the police as a whole (It’s still a long way before the election. We hope that when the election comes, that problem is already addressed),” he said.
An area can only be placed under Comelec control if conditions such as the presence of para-military forces, private armies or private armed groups threaten to commit fraud or terrorism in the area.
If an area is declared under Comelec control, it takes over the functions of the local treasurer in releasing funds.
The task force created by Comelec can also directly supervise the local board of canvassers.
The heated rivalry between the Martinez and Salimbangon families in the 4th district has placed the area under “areas of immediate concern.”
Castillano explained that if a district is categorized as such the Comelec will give a “special attention” to it.
“There will be augmentation of security forces to prevent violent from happening,” he said.
Meanwhile, Castillano said that the clustering of precincts in the province will start next week. He also said that they are expecting to finish it by first week of December.
Incumbent Rep. Benhur Salimbangon of Cebu’s 4th district will be challenged anew by Celestino “Tining” Martinez III, while Bogo City Mayor Celestino “Junie” Martinez Jr. will be challenged again Mariquita Salimbangon-Yeung, younger sister of the incumbent congressman.
In the 2010 elections, tension arose in Bogo City when a convoy of the Salimbangons was blocked by the Martinez camp./ Correspondent Carmel Loise R. Matus