By Ellson Quismorio
An administration congressman doesn’t agree with the Commission on Elections’s (Comelec) wholesale declaration of Mindanao as an election hotspot.
According to Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel, there was no need for such a sweeping declaration ahead of the May 13 midterm polls.
Pimentel, former chairman of the House Committee on Good Government and Public Accountability, went as far to say that the move only created an unfair set-up for non-administration bets.
“I believe there is no need to declare the entire Mindanao sa election hotspot. Instead that is disadvantageous to the candidates who are not close to the administration,” he said.
“What if they use the army or the police to favor a candidate?” asked Pimentel.
Early this month, Comelec declared the entire Mindanao as a “Category Red Election Hotspot.”
What the poll body should have done instead was to pick which areas in Mindanao have intense rivalry among its running candidates, Pimentel said.
“I still think they should declare those areas that have intense political rivalry and a history if there is violence in said area.”
Mindanao, the southernmost island grouping in the country, is composed of 27 provinces, 33 cities, 422 towns, and 10,084 barangays.
Its voting population in the 2016 national elections was 12.6 million, making it the second most vote-rich region next to Luzon (30.4 million). Visayas had 11.3 million voters three years ago.
President Rodrigo Duterte hails from Mindanao, being a former multi-time Davao City mayor. He declared martial law over the region on May 23, 2017 following the attack of some 1,000 terrorist rebels in Marawi City.
Military rule persists to this day in Mindanao.