Security detail limited in run-up to ARMM poll

Posted on June 22, 2012

DAVAO CITY -- A cap has been set on the number of security escorts per candidate in next year’s elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), said a Cabinet official.

Local Government Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said that "we will evaluate the threat, but you only get two police escorts," but added that not all applicants will automatically obtain escorts.

Candidates are not allowed to hire private escorts or security guards nor are they permitted to carry firearms with the enforcement of the 10-day gun ban beginning July 9, or the start of general registration of voters, said the official who was in town for the local governance summit of the ARMM.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expected during the 10-day registration period to bring in 928 machines to 2,470 villages in two cities and 113 municipalities in ARMM.

Mr. Robredo said officials and police officers should strictly follow the gun ban or risk facing dismissal if they are found favoring certain individuals in issuing exemptions.

"We can’t allow partisanship because we might be accused of weakening the chances of one person while bolstering others," he said during the ARMM convention late Wednesday.

For his part, ARMM Officer-in-Charge Governor Mujiv S. Hataman said the gun ban policy should extend beyond the autonomous Muslim region to cover critical towns and cities in Zamboanga Peninsula, Cotabato provinces and Isabela City in Basilan, which is under Zamboanga Peninsula to deter partisan politics.

Congress has dissolved on June 11 the book of voters for the ARMM provinces of Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. -- Joel B. Escovilla