THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has identified the 20 towns and cities that are placed as "hotspots" two days away from the midtern National and Local elections on Monday.
In Comelec Resolution No. 10531 dated May 6 the Committee on the Ban on Firearms and Security Personnel identified the election hotspots based on the recommendation of the regional joint security control centers.
These were categorized based on the intensity of political rivalry in an area.
In Cebu, the following areas were placed under orange category: Tuburan, San Fernando, Ronda, Dumanjug, Daanbantayan, Asturias, Pinamungajan and San Francisco.
Under the orange category are areas with yellow conditions as well as serious armed threats posed by domestic terror groups and other analogous armed groups.
The cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapu-Lapu, Danao, Bogo, Carcar and the municipalities of Pilar, Poro in Camotes, Tudela, Madridejos, Sta. Fe and Bantayan were placed under yellow category and the rest were under green category.
Category green refers to areas of no security concern and are relatively peaceful and orderly.
Yellow is for areas with a history of election-related violence or the existence of intense partisan political rivalry, but without the participation of domestic terror groups.
The Comelec as of Friday, May 10, have identified a total of 1,196 areas under hotspots.
Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Brigadier General Debold Sinas, in a separate interview with media Friday, said that there are no changes to the list of election watch list areas (Ewas) they released on March 18.
“We did not chang anything. We have already agreed with the Comelec. On whatever happens, we will be listing instead. No time to change it unless otherwise something will happen -- like theres' an armed attack or there is harassment" he said.
Last March 18, the police had identified 54 places in Central Visayas as Ewas for the May 13 midterm elections.
Police Regional Tactical Operations Office 7 Chief Dominick Poblete said Bohol has 24 localities under Ewas; Cebu, 20; and Negros Oriental, 10.
Vote buying preparation
Meanwhile, Sinas ordered local police to set up a massive checkpoint on Sunday May 12 on the eve of the election.
This is to counter an expected massive vote buying a day before Monday’s voting when leaders of politicians use last ditch efforts to buy potential voters.
He also ordered police to heighten its foot patrol in mountain barangays and impose curfew ordinances in barangays and cities.
The public is advised against converging in one place to avoid suspicion of vote buying while parents are urged to keep their children outside before the 10 p.m. curfew, he said.
Last week, reports of vote buying in Cebu City circulated online showing sample ballots with stapled money amounting to P1,000 and P5,000.
Meantime, motorcycle vehicles who ply mountain barangays at unusual periods will also be monitored for possibly transporting election money.
Sinas also reminded the public to strictly adhere to the liquor ban and other Comelec set regulations on elections.
"There were already a lot of pronouncements. We will just look at stores and if they are found selling then I’m sorry," Sinas said in Cebuano and English.
He said he has already talked to the chiefs of police of Bohol, Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu Province, Negros and Siquijor for his final instructions.
In Mandaue City, Police Colonel Julian Entoma said they will not hesitate to arrest violators of the liquor ban.
The giving of food, free transportaton, alcoholic beverages among others from politicians are also prohibited based on Resolution No. 10429.
Entoma said they will also apprehend those who are seen giving out sample ballots on election day. The Comelec gun ban is still strictly enforced.
Lawyer Veronico Petalcorin, acting director of Comelec 7, said they are also monitoring vote buying reports in Central Visayas and urged the public to take photos of those caught buying votes.
"We have the gadget. Get a video of the act and file an affidavit because it will be useless if there is no affidavit," Petalcorin said in Cebuano.
In San Fernando, eight military personnel were deployed in Brgy. Bugho on Friday following the shooting incident on Thursday afternoon.
"We came to an agreement with the barangay captain that we will be sending additional personnel to erase fear. That is over and above the PNP deployment in voting centers," he added.
Four armed men were taken into custody by members of the 47th Infantry Battalion for attempting to harass Bugho Councilman Joy Resogento, who is running for the Municipal Council.
The arrested were identified as Romeo Olis Jr., 39, Manuel Alidon, 34, Frisco Tapales,29, and Anastacio Solis, 50.
Sinas said two of them were residents of San Fernando while the other two are from Cebu City.
He added that a case was already filed against the four for illegal possession of firearms, illegal discharge of firearms, and violation to the Comelec gun ban.
He, however, said that they cannot confirm yet if the arrested armed men actually worked for businessman and San Fernando mayoral candidate Ruben Feliciano, as some of the witnesses of the incident earlier claimed.
“We have suspects already, but there is still an ongoing investigation to identify who really hired them,” he said.
Aside from additional security personnel, Sinas also said they have received, on Thursday, four additional units of bomb sniffing dogs which will help secure polling precincts.
“So now, each province, except Siquijor, will have their own EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) personnel and sniffing dogs. We have one for Bantayan Island, one for
Camotes sland, one for the South (Cebu), and one for the North (Cebu),” he said.
Central Visayas now has seven bomb sniffing dogs in total. / FROM FMD AND AYB OF SUPERBALITA CEBU / WBS / TPM OF SUNSTAR PHILIPPINES /