NEWLY-appointed chief of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, Maj. Gen. Jorge Segovia, said Thursday that as early as now they have taken measures for the barangay elections in October.

During the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Philippine National Police-Press Corp media briefing Thursday, Segovia said they have already pointed out possible problem areas in the region.

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"As we know we have hotspots in Davao del Norte, in Compostela Valley, and parts of Davao City, particularly in Paquibato and Marilog. We will be focusing efforts there. There are obvious indications that these are places that have strong terrorist activities," Segovia said at the Task Force Davao headquarters in Sta. Ana wharf.

Compostela Valley Police Director Aaron Aquino said out of the 11 municipalities of the province, seven are tagged Category 2 under the Commission on Election's (Comelec) conditions on election watchlist areas (EWAS).

"Laac, Maragusan, Pantukan, New Bataan, Montevista, Compostella, and Monkayo, most of barangays are influenced by the rebels. Ito ang palaging tinutuunan ng pansin during election time. The last elections we did not have election related crimes there but during the last barangay elections in Comval, we have 2 ERVI (election related violence) wherein one barangay captain and one councilor were killed. We are ready for this barangay election," Aquino said.

Davao City Police Office Director Rene Aspera said he is also expecting the barangay election in the city to be "heated" after conversing with the Comelec.

"They (Comelec) have said that barangay elections tend to get more participation from the people and would be more heated. Dito sa atin wala namang considered as an election hotspot except for the areas where alam talaga nating merong NPA. We will be ready," Aspera said.

Aquino and Aspera said during barangay elections, it is expected that there will be involvement from the NPA.

"The areas I mention, more than 50 percent ng barangays are influenced by rebels. They conduct activities, dialogues in barangays, and commit atrocities. Malakas ang masa nila sa barangay," Aquino said.

EWAS areas are categorized into Category 1 and Category 2. Category 1 means that the area has an intense political rivalry. Category 2 means that the area has the presence of the terror groups.

In January this year, nineteen areas in the country were identified as "hotspots".

Under Category 1, areas listed are Magsaysay, Sulop and Malita all in the province of Davao del Sur. Areas under Category 2, on the other hand, are identified as Bansalan, Hagonoy and Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur; New Corella and Talaingod in Davao del Norte; Montevista, Laak, Compostela, New Bataan, Maragusan, Monkayo and Pantukan in Compostela Valley; Boston and Baganga in Davao Oriental; and Paquibato and Marilog Districts in Davao City.

Segovia, who replaced Major General Carlos Holganza, also showed his determination in keeping his area of command peaceful.

"We are determined to bring down the impression that the Davao Region is number one among areas with a concentration of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army)," he said.

Using Compostela Valley as an example, Compostela Valley is in the heart of their internal security operations but recently New Bataan which before has many accounts of terrorism, now has a lot of success stories, he added.

"I see no reason why the government will not succeed. I do not like to say this is purely an AFP-PNP concern. Insurgency should be everybody's concern and as I said in my assumption speech, I cannot do this alone and 10th ID cannot do this alone. We need the key leaders in community not just for support but also for wisdom," Segovia said.

Segovia and Holganza were among 12 senior military officers affected by a revamp in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, after the retirement of ranking officers, some of whom chose to leave the service early.

Holganza is the new commander of the National Development Support Command. He was handed the command last week. Holganza replaced Major General Reynaldo Mapagu in the 10th ID on November 16, 2009. (Jade C. Zaldivar)