Wednesday July 18, 2018

Bailiwicks of slain Leyte mayor tagged as poll hotspots

ALBUERA, Leyte -- At least five villages in this town have been identified by the Philippine National Police (PNP) as election hotspots for the May 14 village and youth council polls.

Senior Inspector Ronald Espina, Albuera town chief of police, said these hotspots are Tinag-an, Balugo, Mahayahay, Sherwood and Binolho villages, citing history of election-related violence.

The poll-related incidents in the past arose from political rivalries, presence of private armed groups, and reports on proliferation of loose firearms.

Espina told Philippine News Agency on April 23 that identified villages are also known to be the stronghold of the Espinosa drug group in previous years.

The drug group is headed by slain Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa and detained self-confessed drug lord Kerwin Espinosa.

“To prevent violence ahead of village polls, we have to tighten the security in the entire town and deploy additional policemen on Election Day. This is to ensure that civilians will fully enjoy the right to vote free from threats of private armed groups,” Espina said.

Aside from monitoring the presence of private armed groups, the local police force is also keeping an eye on candidates who were included in their drug watchlist.

The town police stepped up their campaign against illegal drugs after receiving reports that illegal drugs trade is gaining traction due to the regrouping of former drug group members. (PNA)