By NITZ ARANCON,
CAMP Alagar yesterday called the Commission on Election’s declaration of the whole of Mindanao as a “category red election hotspot” as a mere preemptive measure in an effort to make the mid-term elections in the country’s second largest island peaceful and orderly.
The Comelec declaration is not a cause for alarm in Cagayan de Oro and elsewhere in northern Mindanao, said Lt. Col. Surki Sereñas, spokesman of the National Police in Region 10.
He said the declaration, made by the Comelec en banc this week, was only meant to make sure that military and police forces would be ready for deployment anytime the Commission needs them in areas where political rivalries disrupt the peace and order.
Camp Alagar, according to Sereñas, is prepared to deploy its troops in order to augment security forces in areas where they are needed, including places outside northern Mindanao.
He cited Lanao del Norte where Camp Alagar sent augmentation forces during the recently held plebiscite.
“Pre-emptive measure lang ni nga declaration aron masiguro sa Comelec nga mas peaceful ang atong election sa Mayo,” he said.
Sereñas added: “We are certain no drastic laws and legal procedures were affected. Our functions remain, and the laws are still unaltered.”
He said the Comelec declaration did not cause confusion although “technical and legal update from the Comelec and the martial law administrator would be very useful for transparency.”
Mayor Oscar Moreno said the Comelec has the exclusive consitutional mandate to hold, supervise and ensure that elections are free, honest, orderly and credible.
“While Mindanao is under martial law, the civilian government still functions fully and unimpeded. For at least the most part of Mindanao, the military is confined to barracks, except for a few helping the police man the checkpoints. Besides, the courts continue to function, and judicial remedies are available,” he said.
Moreno said that while martial law is in effect, “the supremacy of the civilian government is still respected.”
“I think the imposition was meant to ensure that the government will not be caught with its pants down,” he opined.
Moreno pointed out that the supremacy of the Comelec in the holding of elections still prevails.
He also said the declaration by the Comelec of Mindanao as an election hotspot should be distinguished from the election commission’s declaration of a place as “under Comelec control.” Moreno explained: “In the second scenario, Comelec effectively takes over and controls government.”
Councilor Romeo Calizo, chairman of the city council’s peace and order committee, downplayed the Comelec declaration.
“As far as Cagayan de Oro is concerned, wala may tay kabalak-an dinhi,” he said.
Calizo however said the city would always be affected by violence in other areas in Mindanao given that it is part of the island.
“Kini ang rason kon ngano nga gi-declare sa Comelec nga hotspot ang Mindanao tungod ug alang sa peaceful and orderly election sa Mayo,” he said.