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The Comelec-BARMM is developing a list of polling concerns.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Commission on Elections (Comelec) is finalizing its list of areas of concern in the region for the May 9 elections.

Comelec-BARMM assistant regional director Lawyer Renault Macarambon stated on Wednesday that they are assessing all areas in the region that are up for designation as areas of immediate concern and areas of worry.

“Security of voters, poll workers, and the general public is a big issue in the BARMM during election season,” Macarambon said in an interview with reporters here.

Barangays, municipalities, and provinces, he said, are areas of immediate concern because of severe political rivalry, the large presence of armed organizations, private armies, and illegal elements.

On the other side, areas of worry are those that have a history of election-related incidents.

“We’re currently working on finalizing our list of locations for categorization,” Macarambon explained in the vernacular. “Every now and again, we undertake an assessment with our security sectors.”

The provinces of Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, as well as the cities of Cotabato, Marawi, and Lamitan, and the 63 villages in six North Cotabato towns, make up the BARMM.

Military and police authorities in the region are debating the presence of the Dawlah Islamiya terror group, the Abu Sayyaf Group in the western portion of BARMM, private armed groups, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, and other lawless groups.

Regular meetings and assessments of security issues will consume the majority of Comelec personnel’s time, according to Macarambon, as part of the poll body’s attempts to ensure that the May 9 elections are peaceful, orderly, and acceptable to all.

“Orderly, peaceful, and safe national and municipal elections in the region is our top goal,” he continued.

He added the region’s Comelec provincial and municipal offices will shortly launch “Oplan Baklas,” a drive to eliminate unauthorized campaign materials from local and national candidates.

All candidates and their supporters have been asked by Macarambon to remove any unapproved propaganda items from shared poster places.

“Campaign posters must not be fastened to trees,” he said, “but only in Comelec-designated shared poster locations.”

Brig. Gen. Arthur Cabalona, the BARMM’s newly appointed police regional director, also promised the public that the police, as Comelec deputies, will ensure that the region’s next elections are calm and orderly.

Cabalona asked his subordinates to support the national government’s objective to hold elections that are both credible and trouble-free.

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