28 barangays in C. Visayas under watch-A A +A
Friday, September 27, 2013
SOME 28 barangays in Central Visayas region were identified by the police as potential election watch-list areas (Ewas) because of their history of election-related violence, political rivalry and presence of rebels.
None of the barangays are in Cebu.
Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, director of Police Regional Office (PRO) 7, revealed this yesterday as they mapped out their security plan for the Oct. 28 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
Of the 28 barangays, 27 are in Negros Oriental and one is in Siquijor.
The police are still monitoring barangays in Cebu City and Cebu Province, Constantino said.
He would not name the barangays yet while they continue to validate and assess the situation in these areas. He said the number may change as the election draws near.
The police, military and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) 7 met yesterday morning in Camp Sergio Osmeña Sr. for the Regional Joint Peace and Security Coordinating Council (RJPSCC) meeting.
During an interview, Constantino assured the public that they are prepared for the start of the election period tomorrow, when the gun ban and other prohibited acts will be in effect. The election period will end on Nov. 12.
“We’re well prepared and we’re banking on the support from the military, such as the Central Command,” he said.
A month before the elections, Constantino went to Manila to meet with other police officials in Camp Crame to discuss their security plan.
He believes the upcoming polls will be more peaceful with only two election-related incidents recorded in the barangay polls in 2010.
“Probably (there will be) heated rivalry but not really violent,” Constantino said.
Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino, for his part, said the barangay elections need a more comprehensive preparation plan compared to the national elections.
“This is a grassroots election, so it’s a more serious matter,” Lambino said, adding they are expecting a higher voter turnout.
Cebu Provincial Election Supervisor Lionel Marco Castillano, who also attended the
meeting, said there is a higher possibility that violence may erupt because those involved are either neighbors or relatives.
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Francisco Patrimonio of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said the towns of Guihulngan, Sta. Catalina and Siataon in Negros Orinetal are among the areas of concern after they received reports that the New People’s Army are trying to influence political aspirants.
Patrimonio, commander of the 302nd Brigade of the Philippine Army, warned those who will support the rebels that they will be disqualified by Comelec.
Senior Supt. Noli Romana, director of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said he had a dialogue with officials of Barangay Guba after he was tipped that armed men were sighted in the area to support a candidate.
The area turned out to be peaceful, he said.
Camp Crame has set guidelines and procedures for the preparations for the barangay polls, following the success of the conduct of the May midterm elections.
PNP Chief Alan Purisima issued last month Command Memoramdum Circular 32-13 directing all police units and offices in the country to intensify and sustain law enforcement, In a separate interview yesterday, Provincial Election Officer Ferdinand Gujilde reminded the public that the gun ban will be in effect starting midnight of Saturday.
Candidates are also prohibited from using security personnel or bodyguards by candidates, whether they are from the PNP, AFP and other law enforcement agencies.
Other prohibited acts are the issuance of appointment, promotion, creation of new positions or giving of salary, alteration of territory or establishment of a new precinct, raising of funds through dances, lotteries, cockfights for the purpose of supporting a candidate and carrying of firearms or deadly weapons including wearing of military uniforms and insignias.
During the campaign period, which will be from Oct. 18 to 26, the Comelec will also prohibit candidates from making any donation or giving gifts in cash or in kind, as well as their spouse, relatives of the second degree of consanguinity and campaign manager or treasurer of a politician.
Gujilde said customary religious tithes are exempted.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 27, 2013.