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
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)