Election hot-spots being monitored

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.2, No.28
As the election period draws near, incidence of election-related violence were noted in many regions and provinces in the country. The Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Comelec are assessing the areas that are considered as election hot-spots and places where private armies might be present. Among the areas that are considered hot-spots by the commission are the provinces of Abra and Iloilo, and the town of Danao in Bohol.

Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. pointed out though, that their list shows fewer areas. He said that PNP’s list of hot-spots differ from that of the Comelec’s as the latter’s list has fewer identified areas.

Brillantes was reported as saying that the PNP could have consulted them first as far as election hot-spots are concerned, and added that even though they have not deputized the PNP yet, Comelec will still consider the “high risk” areas as identified by the PNP.

The places that were tagged by the PNP as “high risk” areas are: Abra, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Cavite, Masbate, Samar, Misamis Occidental, Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur and Basilan. These provinces are known to have a history of intense rivalry among their political clans as well as the proliferation of firearms and private armed groups.

Apart from the provinces mentioned, the PNP also reported that they are monitoring 508 cities and municipalities all over the country, and 315 specific barangays in the Western Visayas area (Region VI).

In Abra, one of the identified election hotspots, representatives from various government agencies and civil society organizations were called together to discuss issues and relevant matters in preparation for the elections in 2013. The participants in this consultation meeting were representatives of the PNP, the Philippine Army, Comelec, Department of Education (DepEd), religious groups, NAMFREL, PPCRV, local media, academe, and the business sectors including the farmers. Atty. Mae Richelle Belmes, Abra provincial election supervisor (PES), said that the issues and recommendations that will be culled from the consultation will be forwarded to Comelec for their evaluation and consideration.

(Various news sources)