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PNP persistently monitors election hotspots in East Visayas

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
September 26, 2009

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Philippine National Police continues to monitor and assess the provinces, cities and municipalities in Eastern Visayas for election-related violent incidents months before next year’s elections.

In a conference with the local media, the PRO 8 officials led by Director Mario San Diego and the Police Relations Officers of the various provinces and cities in Region 8, PIDR Leopoldo N. Bataoil of the Directorate for Police Community Relations, said that the PNP in the Region is now in the process of assessment and based on the assessment, make recommendations.

Police Regional Office 8 Director Mario San Diego disclosed that the PNP has “historical” data based on the 2004 and 2007 elections.

Director San Diego informed that a review of the list is necessary to find out if there is a need to include other areas.

“We are conducting continuing assessments on areas of concern and areas of immediate concern, and making recommendations so we can plan ahead with the deployment of forces,” Director San Diego said.

“Our overall assessment of the prevailing situation in all election areas of concern will be subject to continuous validation and review,” he added.

He intimated that the recommendation may be for the pull out of the entire police force in a particular area and swap it with the entire force from another area or reinforce the police force with the addition of men from the Police Mobile Group.

For his part, PIDR Leopoldo N. Bataoil informed that before an area is considered an election hotspot, several factors will be considered, like the history of election-related violent incidents in past elections; the existence of intense political rivalry between contending parties; the possible employment of partisan armed groups by candidates in the area, and the presence of domestic threat groups.

The PNP can only make recommendations to the Comelec which is the one in charge on election matters, he added.

Earlier, PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa has ordered a review of the list of election areas of concern to serve as a guide in the deployment of personnel and resources.

“This will serve as a reference or point of consideration in operational planning such as deployment of security forces, structuring of local PNP units, and availability of resources,” he stated in his order.

Based on records, only Samar province and five municipalities and one city under it, has been consistent election hotspots in the 2001, 2004 and 2007 elections. The Samar LGUs are Calbayog City, Matuguinao, San Jorge, San Jose de Buan, Sta. Margarita and Tarangnan.