DEATH THREATS. Atty. Veronico Petalcorin, regional director of the Commission on Elections (Comelec)-7 in Central Visayas (left), raises a point during a press briefing at the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (REMAC-7) at Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr. in Cebu City on Monday (May 13, 2019). Petalcorin replaced lawyer Marchel Sarno as chairman of the Cebu City Board of Canvassers, following the death threats the latter received through text messages. (Photo by John Rey Saavedra)
CEBU CITY – The Philippine National Police (PNP) in this city on Monday assigned close-in security detail to a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official, who reported receiving death threats through text messages.
Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) chief, Col. Royina Garma, said the security personnel will assure the safety of Comelec-Cebu City South District Election Officer Marchel Sarno.
Sarno reported to the police that he received text messages saying, “Usa ra ka ka bala,” and “Tago nalang” at around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 12.
Comelec Regional Director Veronico Petalcorin said Sarno will no longer sit as chairman of the Cebu City Board of Canvassers, following the threat.
“He requested to be replaced. I asked him to write so that he can be replaced. That’s for his safety,” said Petalcorin in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on the sidelines of the press briefing at the Regional Election Monitoring Action Center (REMAC-7) at the Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr. here.
Petalcorin said another Comelec lawyer, Chaunsey Boholst, replaced Sarno as chairman of the board of cavassers.
He, however, said Sarno is still the election officer of the Cebu City South District.
In effect, Boholst will be the authorized official of the Comelec who can proclaim the winning candidates of Monday’s mid-term election.
According to the highest Comelec official in Central Visayas, Sarno also wanted the authorities to investigate the threats he received.
“Iya pud gihashas basin tinuod o dili. Nagpa-ivestigate pud siya unsay degree sa iyang hulga og imminent ba gyud (He wants it checked if it’s true or not. He wants investigation how imminent are the threats),” he said.
Petalcorin said no matter how neutral they are in performing their duties as election officers, they could not escape being doubted by some camps.
“I hope after few days that the perceptions against him will be proven wrong, everything will subside,” he said in Cebuano.
Sarno was quoted in a radio report as saying that it was not the first time he has received death threats, but it was the first message implying his perceived partiality. (PNA)