The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) assured the members of European Union (EU) Exploratory Mission of a peaceful and transparent conduct of 2019 midterm elections.
DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año made this statement following the visit of EU emissaries at the DILG Central Office for a possible observer mission to assess the situation of the upcoming elections preparation and plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Basic Law.
“The presence of the EU emissaries is a perfect opportunity for the national government and the country to show to the whole world that we are capable of maintain utmost safety and security in the exercise of our right to suffrage,” Año said.
DILG Undersecretary for Operations Epimaco V. Densing III and Assistant Secretary for Local Government Marivel C. Sacendoncillo who hosted the group said that the presence of the exploratory mission is a good opportunity for the government to clearly display transparency and credibility in the exercise of the people’s right to vote.
“For purposes of transparency, the presence of EU observers will form part of the country’s history. At the end of the day, we are talking about peace and development in Mindanao. And many of us, including myself who is from Mindanao, are looking forward to a successful plebiscite,” Densing said.
The EU Exploratory Mission said they were invited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to observe the conduct of the elections and the possibility of a plebiscite.
Densing explained that the government is on the lookout for disorganized remains of the Maute Group, Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) that can spoil the peaceful conduct of the midterm elections and the Bangsamoro plebiscite.
He said that while national peace talks were canceled, localized peace process have been exerted to end hostilities on the ground following confirmation that there is now a disconnect in terms of the communist rebels in the Netherlands and those of the local groups.
“They are talking about peace there but in the local level, I don’t know if they know what is happening. There is a disconnection between their leaders in the Netherlands and here. That is why we wanted to localize the peace process. This is something that is very quite logical,” he explained.
LGUs on top of election preps
Meanwhile, Asec. Sacendoncillo said that the government continuously works towards achieving a peaceful 2019 midterm elections by putting the local government at the forefront of the initiatives.
“We have activated the regional peace and order councils and the local peace and order councils, so the provinces are now at the forefront of election-related initiatives. Our governors are initiating the reforms in key needed areas of their respective provinces,” she explained.
Sacendoncillo also assured the EU delegates that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be at hand to secure their safety and will provide appropriate advice on where it is safe to go or not.
She added that the government has been relentless in the anti-violent extremism drive and forums are being carried out around the country to foster greater awareness among the people on the existence of violent extremism even outside of Mindanao.
“People just have to be aware that the possibility of ISIS members moving around the country or establishing their hold in some places is there,” she said.
Members of the EU Delegates to the Philippines that visited the DILG on Tuesday include Nicolay Paus, Ioannis Kleisiaris, Eric Des Pallieres, Catherine Pascal, Victor Perez Sañudo, Delphine Mallard, Archontoula Antoniou, Jerome Riviere, Altair Asesores and Gilles Saphy.