64 Cordillera villages in watch list-A A +A
By JM Agreda
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
SECURITY preparations for the upcoming October 28 barangay elections are underway.
Police Regional Office-Cordillera director Chief Superintendent Benjamin Magalong said they have identified some 64 out of 1,176 barangays in Abra, Kalinga, Mt. Province and Benguet as election watch list areas due to past and present political rivalries and presence of private armed groups and insurgents.
Magalong said of the 64 barangays, 34 are of immediate concern while 11 have intense political rivalries, which they will address through their Conflict Mediation and Diffusion strategy with dialogues and engagement of political leaders to commit to peaceful elections.
The region's top cop stressed more focused police operations such as checkpoints were activated Saturday night with the start of the Commission on Election's ordered gun ban as well as continued "Operation Kapkap" and serving of arrest warrants to wanted persons.
Operations to confiscate loose firearms have yielded arrests in Baguio City and Kalinga province.
The police regional director also classified potential hotspots in Baguio City, which includes barangays Kabayanihan, Campo Filipino and Rizal Monument due to past records of intense political rivalries and tensions during elections.
The police together with Comelec and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are reviewing security preparations through provincial command conferences scheduled this week to align strategies for a clean and orderly elections.
Even before the start of the Comelec gun ban, Magalong said they have trimmed down private armed groups from 103 in past elections to only seven groups through continued arrests leading to the neutralization of all groups.
"We believe the barangay elections here are more peaceful with the continued cooperation of politicians especially in Abra," he said.
The police regional director recalled commitments made by politicians to continue keeping their weapons on muzzles even after the May 13 elections extending the sealing of their firearms up to the end of the October 28 elections.
In Abra, he said, the gun ban was never lifted as some 450 guns remain taped and muzzled up to this day.
The regional director, who will be end his tour of duty in the region on October 28 after spending two years in the Police Regional Office-Cordillera, said it is his commitment and lasting legacy that election related violence and crime volume have dipped during his command while also introducing innovations in transparent community policing through the Geographical Information System-based crime analysis as well as in pivoting the police’s role in disaster risk reduction and management.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on October 02, 2013.