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En banc approval is required to place a region under Comelec control: exec

DUMAGUETE CITY β€” On Thursday, a senior official with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Negros Oriental said that putting an area under the poll body’s supervision is a “last resort” that involves a lengthy process.

While lawyer Lionel Marco Castillano, provincial election supervisor-designate of Negros Oriental, “understands Governor Roel Degamo’s apprehension” in asking for Bayawan City to be placed under Comelec authority, it is just not possible at this time and “too early.”

Degamo had previously requested that the Comelec take control of Bayawan City following a series of gun incidents in which three of his campaign leaders/supporters were killed.

“It’s not easy to put an area under Comelec supervision because it requires an en banc resolution of the agency and a lengthy process,” Castillano explained.

Furthermore, he noted, the shooting occurrences have yet to be established to be linked to the May 9 elections.

Furthermore, Castillano claims that putting an area under Comelec jurisdiction will have “bad effects on the local economy and tourism” because people will see the area as unsafe and insecure.

“For the time being, we’ve sent more security troops to Bayawan City in the hopes of ensuring peaceful and orderly elections in May,” he added.

Residents of the southern city were also asked by the Comelec lawyer to help authorities by providing information on the shooting events.

Castillano reassured the governor and residents of the city that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) are working together to investigate the shootings.

Castillano said he was informed that pursuit operations are continuing and that cases will be filed against the suspects in the killings during a luncheon meeting on Thursday with PNP provincial director Col. Germano Mallari and Brig. Gen. Leonardo Pea, commander of the Philippine Army’s 302nd Infantry Brigade.

He didn’t go into detail about whether these occurrences were related.

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