By Ferdinand G. Patinio
MANILA, (PNA) — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will conduct a command conference on Monday with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to discuss matters, including the security situation in connection with the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on October 28.
“During the command conference, we will be asking the PNP and AFP on their reports regarding the presence of private-armed groups and where the intense political rivalries are,” said Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca in an interview.
She added that aside from the authorities, expected to attend are Regional Election Directors (REDs) from all over the country.
The meeting will be held at the Comelec main office located at the Palacio del Gobernador Building in Intramuros, Manila.
During the conference, poll body official expect that they are looking to be briefed by the PNP and AFP on the places to be considered as “areas of concern”.
In the May 13 midterm polls, the Comelec has declared as “areas of concern” the provinces of Abra, Ilocos Norte, Pangasinan, La Union, Cagayan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Cavite, Batangas and Masbate in Luzon; Western Samar in the Visayas; and Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, and Lanao del Norte in Mindanao.
Earlier, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that they are expecting an intense electoral exercise next month.
Also expected to be tackled in the meeting, Padaca said, is the assessment of the situation in Zamboanga City, which is under siege.
The Comelec earlier said that it is considering to postpone the elections in barangays affected by the fighting between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in the provinces and in Zamboanga City.
“We will use that (conference) to gather information and to enable us to be able to decide whether to postpone the elections there or not,” Padaca added.
Five out of some 98 barangays in Zamboanga City were occupied by the MNLF.