DUE to fears that the May elections in Mandaue City will be violent, the city might be declared under “Orange Alert” status, the second highest alert level for Election Watchlist Areas (EWAs).
Senior Supt. Julian Entoma, Mandaue City Police Office (MCPO) director, plans to submit his recommendation to the Police Regional Office 7 and the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
Entoma told reporters he didn’t want to wait for the city to end up like the town of San Fernando where some local officials had been killed by still unidentified assassins.
The police official said their intelligence units had monitored the presence of armed groups and individuals in the city.
According to his operatives, members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang continue to live in the city’s mountain barangays while some have moved to neighboring areas after their cohorts were killed by riding-in-tandem gunmen.
The Kuratong Baleleng is an organized crime syndicate that used to be an anti-communist vigilante group operating in Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur. Its first leader was Octavio Parojinog.
Last September, Mark Lester Castillo, identified as a former security head of Ozamiz City Vice Mayor Nova Parojinog, and a companion were shot dead by unidentified assailants in Barangay Cubacub. Nova is the granddaughter of Octavio.
Entoma said they expected the group to either retaliate against those who killed their cohorts or they may be used by some politicians to intimidate opponents.
“We are preparing for two possible scenarios. First, the group might bring in more men to Cebu to exploit the political season by conducting criminal activities or a politician might grab the opportunity and hire them. We will not belittle their presence in the city or their movements in the incoming elections,” Entoma said in Cebuano.
The police official said he was waiting for the Regional Joint Security Coordinating Council to deliberate on his recommendation.
In the meantime, Entoma said they would conduct random checkpoints in addition to the two daily checkpoints mandated by the Comelec.
He said they would go after violators of the election gun ban.
Police and the local election office will organize the signing of a peace covenant for election candidates on Feb. 5.
A city or town identified as EWA can only be declared under “Orange Alert” status if armed men posing as private armed groups are present or if there is intense political rivalry among candidates.
During the last barangay elections, Mandaue City was declared among the EWAs due to intense rivalry among candidates.
Entoma said they used as one of their basis for wanting to declare an “Orange Alert” status the death threat Mayor Luigi Quisumbing received last year. (From FMD of SuperBalita Cebu, JKV)