Comelec places Negros Oriental under its control for BSKE

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 18) — The Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) will take place in Negros Oriental but the province would be placed under the poll body's control over security concerns, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc announced on Monday.

"Minarapat po ng Comelec na ituloy ito sapagkat base po sa nakalap namin napatunayan po namin na overwhelmingly na ang gusto ng mga kababayan natin doon ay tumuloy ang eleksyon sa October 30. Ganun din naman po ang PNP (Philippine National Police) at AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines)," Comelec Chairman George Garcia said in a briefing.

[Translation: The Comelec thought it best to proceed because based on information we were able to prove that residents in the area overwhelmingly want elections to continue on October 30, together with the PNP and AFP.]

The Comelec may place an area under its control if there is a history of intense political rivalry and violence. Once an area is under Comelec control, the poll body has full control and supervision over national and local officials, as well as law enforcement agencies.

Garcia explained the provincial coverage of Comelec control.

"Pwede naman magbago deklarasyon as we go on. Ang importante in the meantime buong probinsya ang buong declaration because of the fear na kung may threat dito may pangyayari, magsi-spillover," he said.

[Translation: The decision could change as we go on. What's important for now is the declaration for the province because of the fear there could be a spill over in case of a threat.]

Garcia assured people in the province there will be no disruption of government services, explaining that the move is meant to address worries about possible violence during elections in October.

"Ang intensyon lang naman ay siguraduhin maayos yung pagcoconduct natin ng halalan. Ang importante normal ang buhay diyan, normal ang pamamahala diyan. Yung presensya kung meron man ng Armed Forces and the PNP will be minimal," he said.

[Translation: Our intention is to ensure that elections are held peacefully. What's important is life remains normal. If there is the presence of the Armed Forces and the PNP, it will be minimal.]

Negros Oriental has had several incidents of politics-related violence, including the assassination of Gov. Roel Degamo in March.

The Comelec is also looking at other areas to be placed under its control. It is waiting for the recommendation of law enforcement in Libon, Albay and Malabang, Lanao del Sur, both of which encountered election-related violence.

CNN Philippines' Lisbet Esmael and Paige Javier contributed to this report.