Police recommends 32 poll watch list areas in C. Visayas
THE police has proposed the inclusion of 32 localities in Central Visayas in the election-watch list areas (EWAs) based on their history of election-related violence.
Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, acting regional director of the Police Regional Office Central Visayas (PRO-7), told reporters the recommendation will be submitted during a meeting with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Of the 32, 18 are in Cebu including Dumanjug town in south Cebu; eight in Bohol and six in Siquijor province.
“Our watch list is recommendatory. We have identified the areas under category 1. It will be up to the coordinating council if they are going to give their approval,” said Gaerlan.
He explained that those areas belonging to category 1 are identified based on the intensity of political rivalries.
“We do intelligence monitoring and also consider past incidents. We investigate silently those candidates who might use guns-for-hire groups,” he said.
In the 2013 elections, there were 33 towns and cities in Central Visayas which were declared election hot spots and 14 were in Cebu, namely, the cities of Bogo, Danao, Carcar and Lapu-Lapu and the towns of Sogod, Barili, San Fernando, Daan Bantayan, Tuburan, Sta. Fe, Ronda, Pinamungajan, Tabogon and Dumanjug.
In Bohol, the election watch list areas were Tagbilaran City and the towns of Trinidad and Carmen. In Siquijor, only Larena is in the list.
In Negros Oriental, Bayawan City, Canlaon City, Tanjay City, Jimalalud, Bacong, La Libertad, Zamboanguita, Vallehermoso, Guihulngan City, Bindoy, Pamplona, Sibulan, Valencia, Siaton and Sta. Catalina are in the list.
However, with the creation of the new Negros Island Region, Negros Oriental is no longer part of Region 7.
As part of its preparations, all city and provincial heads were instructed to initiate a peace covenant for a fair and safe May polls this year.
If they cannot make it on their own, they can ask a religious or person in authority to help mediate between opposing candidates.
For the past months, several town mayors have been visiting city and provincial police directors to request for security in the upcoming elections.
However, Gaerlan clarified that only the Comelec has the authority to grant requests for security personnel. Or, they can hire protective security agents for their safety.
Less than three months before the elections, he said they are intensifying the campaign against loose firearms and suspected gun-for-hire groups or private armed groups through intelligence-driven checkpoints.
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