Negros Oriental governor says open to military control, suspension of barangay polls

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 20 2023 07:18 PM

The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/file
The Negros Oriental Capitol in Dumaguete, the seat of the province's local government. Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News/file

DUMAGUETE CITY — Negros Oriental Gov. Carlo Jorge Joan "Guido" Reyes on Thursday said he was open to the possible postponement of the province's Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections amid the heated political climate there following the assassination of his predecessor Roel Degamo.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, Reyes said the province would "stand by with whatever decision" the national government would take on Negros Oriental's peace and order situation, which was tackled in a series of hearings by the Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs this week.

He said he was also open to a possible localized declaration of a state of emergency in Negros Oriental. The Senate panel had also floated the idea of placing the province under military control.

Reyes, however, suggested that these policies must be done after a "thorough study and much circumspect for the welfare" of the province's residents.

On the third day of the hearings on Wednesday, Sen. Francis Tolentino proposed the postponement of the Barangay and SK polls in Negros Oriental slated this October.

"Kung i-postpone po iyon, magkakaroon ng mas malakas na momentum ang ating peacekeeping forces. Pagkatapos ng ibang trabaho, mame-maintain 'yung law and order sa Negros Oriental," he explained.

Tolentino also warned that the present "political atmosphere" in Negros Oriental may lead to further chaos that may peak during the election season.

He then asked panel chair Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa to invite Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia to discuss the proposal in the next hearing. 

Pamplona Mayor Janice Degamo, the slain governor's widow, welcomed the proposal.

"I understand the sentiment of the good Senators Tolentino and Padilla," Reyes further said in his statement, which was coursed to ABS-CBN News by provincial administrator Karen Lisette Molas.

"Indeed the dire state of the peace and order situation in the 
Province, now uncovered in the halls of the Senate of the Philippines, is something which requires an urgent but calibrated approach," he added.

But Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman George Erwin Garcia said the Senate panel's proposal to postpone the barangay polls in Negros Oriental "should be seriously and carefully studied."

"Although admittedly, we have the power to postpone the election in an area, however, there are stringent requirements of the law," Garcia said, noting that a postpone can only last up to 30 days.

—with report from Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News


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