Comelec-12 nixes hotspot declaration for Sarangani town

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 March) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has rejected the possibility of placing the coastal town of Glan in nearby Sarangani province under its control despite a broiling political rivalry in the area.

Lawyer Remlane Tambuang, Comelec Region 12 director, said their assessment showed that the peace and order situation in Glan has remained stable “with no imminent threats” of any disruption related to the upcoming May 13 mid-term national and local elections that might occur in the area.

“There are specific parameters or requirements that should first be considered and so far the prevailing situation there does not warrant its declaration as under Comelec control,” he said in a local television interview.

Glan mayoralty aspirant Enrique Yap Jr. earlier called on the Comelec and police authorities to declare the entire area as an election “hotspot” and under Comelec control due to alleged harassment that he received from a rival camp.

Yap, who was a former three-term mayor of Glan, claimed the harassments were supposedly perpetrated by the camp of his younger brother, incumbent Mayor Victor James Yap Sr., who is seeking reelection.

The former mayor said he noticed in several occasions that unidentified armed men alleged to be members of the local police auxiliary unit were following him.

He said their rival camp has been using “arms and money” to sow fear and force their constituents to support them.

“I am appealing now to all those in government, through the media, that Glan be placed as a political hotspot because of the harassment that is going on. I am also calling on the authorities to place Glan under Comelec control,” he said.

But the incumbent mayor belied his elder brother’s accusations, saying they were all “pure lies.”

“First, we’re not capable of killing a human being. Second, he’s my own brother. I could send someone to secure him just to make sure that he’s safe,” he said.

Chief Insp. Joefel Remudaro, Glan police station chief, denied that some members of the local police auxiliary had been tailing the former mayor.

He said the police station earlier sent some policemen to a village in the area to respond to alleged security threats on the former mayor.

“We have proof that my men coordinated properly with the barangay council and just went there to respond to their complaint,” he said.

Remudaro added that they have been treating fairly every political camp in the area as part of the regional police’s policy of pushing for “secure and fair elections.”

Tambuang said they will continue to evaluate the security condition in Glan as well as other areas in the region as part of their preparations for the upcoming elections.

“If some parties or political camps would seek the declaration of an area under Comelec control but the overall peace and order situation there is stable or normal, I don’t think we can issue such declaration,” he said.

In Region 12, which is also known as the Soccsksargen Region, Comelec and law enforcement units have not yet declared a specific locality as an election watchlist area or hotspot in connection with the May elections.

The region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)