A mayoral candidate in Culion has sought the help of the central office of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) in sending police personnel and increasing their visibility in the town to prevent some 20 “unfamiliar looking men” from harassing and terrorizing his supporters and coordinators.
In a letter of information and complaint posted by the Save Palawan Movement (SPM) on Wednesday on its social media page, municipal chapter president for the Pederalismo ng Dugong Dakilang Samahan (PDDS) party and candidate for Culion mayor Emiliano Marasigan Jr., said some “unusual and unlawful activities” are going on in their town in connection with the May 13 elections.
The letter-complaint was addressed to Sheriff M. Abas, chairman of the COMELEC in Intramuros, Manila.
It was also copy furnished to Atty. Urbano Arlando, the provincial election supervisor.
The SPM post, which did not indicate the date of the letter-complaint supposedly written and sent by Marasigan to the COMELEC national office, said the suspicious individuals are “allegedly Muslims” who have arrived in Culion “to terrorize, threaten, and harass” his supporters and coordinators like what happened in 2016.
Marasigan claimed “several men wearing bonnets” have been seen in various barangays in Culion “sowing fear and terror” among his supporters and coordinators.
He indicated two areas in the letter-complaint, but the SPM post did not state them.
Marasigan also said a group of politicians has been “forcefully keeping” his supporters and coordinators inside a “private property”, most specifically at the “(Pavilion)”, but again, did not specify the place.
They are being kept allegedly to prevent them from exercising their rights to suffrage.”
In this privately-owned property, he said vote buying is “allegedly being conducted to involuntary secure votes for local candidates which is a blatant violation of election laws.”
“We are requesting for your action to immediately arrest these situations. You can send police personnel to check and verify these reports and conduct police visibility in these areas. This letter will serve as your BASIS for your police action, as done by authorities in Cavite wherein they caught and arrested vote buyers. We would like your good office to have the same accomplishment. We are sure you can [sic],” Marasigan pointed out.
He ended his letter-complaint by stating follow-up reports will be sent to the COMELEC central office from “time-to-time.”
Marasigan is the former mayor of Culion who is now running against incumbent mayor Virginia de Vera.
In 2018, he was acquitted by the 7th Division of the Sandiganbayan of the graft charge filed against him in connection to the alleged violation of Section 3(h) of R.A. 3019, or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act regarding the procurement of supplies from a family-owned business.
A page moderator of the SPM told Palawan News they received the copy of the letter-complaint as a private message on messenger.
“We don’t have a hard copy, we received a text of the complaint via messenger. It is not our complaint, not our job because we are not the complainant. COMELEC should investigate the matter. Please ask the Comelec maybe they are just slow. COMELEC can contact the person in the complaint. The name is indicated. We are just admin of Save Palawan page,” said the moderator who did not identify himself/herself.
Sought for comment on this, provincial COMELEC spokesperson Jomel Ordas said they have not received any information regarding Marasigan’s letter-complaint sent to their Intramuros head office.
“Wala kaming na-re-receive about d’yan,” he said.
Ordas said if Marasigan has evidence to back his claims, he should also formalize his complaints to the police.
“Yong tungkol sa harassment i-report nila sa pulis para maaksyonan ganoon din ‘yong sinasabing vote buying. Puwede rin ang vote buying i-formal complaint nila na verified with the affidavit at evidence. Puwede din nila i-file sa local COMELEC sa doon, sa provincial, sa regional, or sa prosecutor’s office,” he said.
3rd Marine Brigade (3MBDe) commander Brigadier General Charlton Sean Gaerlan, the chief of the Joint Task Force Peacock (JTFP) working closely with the Palawan Provincial Police Office (PPO) for the elections, said the letter-complaint has not also reached their knowledge.
“Wala naman napaabot pa na ganyan sa amin ang COMELEC sa ngayon. Pero aalamin natin ito,” he said to Palawan News in a phone call.
On Monday, the JTFP held a readiness inspection and send-off ceremonies for around 700 personnel from uniformed units, including the Philippine National Police (PNP), for election duties in the city and the whole province.